This version of Chile Colorado is made with pork and an enchilada spice blend, rather than using dried, and then rehydrated, peppers. It is much easier to use a good powdered spice blend, and the blend we used included cumin and a few other spices that greatly enhanced the flavor. We used fresh cactus paddles (nopales), which do require removal of the thorns. Fresh nopales and a great spice blend make this dish delicious with a little less time.
4tomatoesroughly chopped, or 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
2sprigsepazoteor 2 tsps dried (optional); alternatively use Mexican oregano
2lbscactus paddlesthorns removed (see post) and diced (3 cups diced)
Prepare the cactus- remove thorns by cutting off the thick edges of the cactus and then using a spoon to scrape off the thorns (see video for details). When thorns from one paddle are removed place in a bowl of water while removing from rest of paddles. Run your hands along the paddle to make sure all thorns are removed, and then chop or dice into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Put pork in Dutch oven or nonstick stockpot and turn heat to high. Add water and salt. Heat until almost all of the water has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Once the water evaporates, add 2 tbsp of oil and stir occasionally to lightly sear the pork pieces.
While the pork is cooking, in a separate pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat and add cactus and one of the quarters of the onion. Stir to combine and continue cooking until cactus is a pale green- about 10 minutes.
If using fresh tomatoes, broil the tomatoes and the remaining half of the onion on high for 5-8 minutes per side. Set aside to cool slightly. If using canned tomatoes, broil the onion alone until charred.
To a food processor or blender, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and a powdered enchilada spice blend (we used the blend from Heathglen). If using whole chiles, stem and seed them and add to the food processor (Some people will roast them first). Blend everything until smooth. Add a small amount of water (1/2 cup- 1 cup) and blend again if the sauce is too thick for you.
Combine tomato/chile/enchilada mix, seared pork cubes and cooked cactus in the dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low until the chile colorado is at a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, adding the epazote about 5 minutes before it is ready.
I prefer this with corn tortillas, but flour tortillas are fine
With a side of refried beans
Over a bed of rice or cauliflower rice
Over a couple of fried eggs for a easy low carb breakfast