Walk stories: Slow-cooked pork with tomatillos

Listen to John Popper and the Blues Traveler by clicking on the post title.

Walk on the wild side, walk like a man, a walk in the park, walking the walk, walk of fame, walk of shame—walking runs through our lives. Used to be that only kids and elders walked, pre-teens rode their bikes, teenagers cruised in packs, and adults drove everywhere. No one ran, unless someone was chasing them. In 1980 when we lived at the Klinks’ (a boat-sized house perched on Vashon’s Tramp Harbor), Bob watched the Olympic Trials. Lying on the floor in front of our small black and white TV one morning, he followed along during an athlete’s exercise routine—tired after ten sit-ups, he vowed to get into better shape. Thus began a forty-year program. That day he walked along the beach road from Tramp Harbor to Portage, around the bend and back again. 

Later that year I was riding my scooter home from soccer practice and got hit by an orange Volkswagen. I remember lying in the middle of the Vashon Highway watching the Volkswagen’s red tail lights disappear. An oncoming car pulled over immediately and helped me get off to the side of the road. As part of my broken ankle rehab the physical therapist advised a short walk, so walk I did. Bob and Foster walked with me, Bob watching for traffic along Portage Road and Foster, a serious power walker, forging on ahead, looping back to us when he got too far away. We walked every day and before long, I was back at work. I quit walking, the Sweetie never did. We looked for that orange Volkswagen for years but never found it.

When we first moved to LA in 1982 we lived in Westwood, a few blocks from UCLA, and had a spectacular walk. A quick left turn out the door onto Strathmore and we were on fraternity row, ears still ringing from last night’s parties. Down the hill, and onto the campus—past Pauley Pavilion, along Bruin Walk, the Ackerman Student Union, Schoenberg Music Building, Sproul Hall, and into the Murphy Sculpture Garden. In the spring, we walked under spreading jacaranda trees, buds bursting with lavender blooms.

We exited on Hilgard, cruised down the hill, and always took a brief detour through the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. Every morning we marveled at our good fortune and tried to avoid buying a cookie at the brand-new Mrs. Field’s.

 

In 2008 when were in Chicago for a winter EPIC install, the temperature dipped to 10-15° below zero, with a cold wind blowing off Lake Michigan. On our first morning there, Bob put on everything warm he brought with him, laced up his new Doc Martens, and started out for his daily walk. He went about 50 yards and realized that this was not your Puget Sound cold—this cold did not pussyfoot, this cold killed. He turned around, went back into the hotel and used the treadmill in the fitness room. Whenever the temperature warmed to above zero, an outdoor walk was possible with long underwear, earmuffs, two scarves, and a mask, but his getup ruled out entering a 7-11.



 

This is just the thing to eat after a long, winter walk.

Slow-cooked pork with tomatillos 

  • 2 pounds boneless pork butt 
  • 3 slivered garlic cloves, plus 1 minced garlic clove, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 small Serrano chile, seeded and minced 
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint 
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice 
  • Black pepper 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a small sharp knife to make small 1-inch deep cuts all over the surface of the pork, and push one sliver of garlic into each slit. Season the pork with salt and pepper, rubbing the seasonings all over the meat.

In a large, heavy ovenproof casserole, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear on all sides to a rich brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion to the casserole and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté the onion until tender, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the minced garlic, the Serrano chile and the tomatillos and continue to sauté until the tomatillos are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Stir in the orange peel and the oregano.

Nestle the roast back with the vegetables and spoon some of the juices over the meat. Cover and roast 2 hours, until the pork is tender (it will pull apart easily).

Remove the casserole from the oven. Carefully lift the meat out of the casserole onto a carving board. Stir the basil, mint, lime juice and a few grinds of black pepper into the sauce. Use a fork to break the meat apart into bite size pieces. Divide the pork evenly among six plates and spoon the tomatillo sauce evenly over the portions. Serve with grilled tortillas and/or rice.

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2 Responses to Walk stories: Slow-cooked pork with tomatillos

  1. Patty and Jim and Micah says:

    Lovely stories and great fun, grateful that walking is still in our lives, especially now with our dog Micah! So much joy and beauty when you walk together. Hugs and love to you and let’s hope soon we can stroll together to enjoy the beauty of each other’s company
    ❤️🙏

  2. Kathy says:

    Wow I had no idea Bob had been walking for so long. That is amazing. It makes me want to get out right now. A great story. You will have to tell me more about your accident on Vashon. Well not really your accident! You have been through so much in your life and you are still so optimistic!

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