The cooler weather also means I can take my stove out of mothballs and fire it up, without turning my apartment into a sauna. It seemed like the perfect excuse to braise something. Chile Verde, or "Green Chili", is probably one of my favorite dishes. I can't imagine anything more comforting than big hunks of collagen rich meat made meltingly tender in a green sauce made from smoky sweet char-roasted vegetables. My version is bolstered with spices like cumin, fennel and coriander, and laced with the sweet smell of cinnamon.
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and thoroughly wash the sticky soapy substance off the surface of the fruit. Cut a plus sign on the bottom of each tomatillo to keep them from exploding in the oven and place them on a baking sheet along with the onion and garlic. Move the oven rack to the top position and broil on high until the tops of the tomatillos are black and bubbling caramelized liquid from their cores. Remove the pan from the oven and allow them to cool a bit. Add them to a blender of a food processor and pulse a few times until there are no large chunks of onion remaining (it should still be chunky).
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot large enough to accomodate the lamb in one layer over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper the lamb breast. When the pot is hot, place the ribs in the pan with the fattest side down. You want the fat to render out and help get the lamb golden brown. Let it fry undisturbed until the lamb is golden brown on one side (about 5 minutes). Turn and repeat on the other 3 sides. Remove the lamb from the pot and drain most of the oil from the pan.
- Add the cumin, fennel and coriander to the pot and fry in the remaining oil until the spices start popping. Add the pureed tomatillos and onions to the pot along with the chicken stock, cilantro, jalapeno, cinnamon and bay leaf. Return the lamb breast to the pot and turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer partially covered until the meat is falling off the bones (2-3 hours). Skim any excess fat off the surface and adjust salt as needed, add some honey if you want it sweeter, and serve with hot corn tortillas.