If you grew up in a tropical climate, Purslane was not something you went to the market to buy. It was something that your mom sent you to look for around the neighborhood, whether at a neighbor’s house or on the side of the road. It used to be the same way with Nopales, also. For example, my Mom would ask some of my siblings or me to go to a neighbor’s house, if she was growing purslane, and kindly ask for some. You would arrive at her house and say something like:
“Good Morning Sra. Lupita, my Mom says if you would be so kind to share some Purslane for today’s meal.” It could be purslane, nopales, lime, epazote, mint, avocados, or whatever they had planted in their patio. At my parents’ home we had limes, so people would often come to our house asking if we could share some limes with them. Those were other times, but I’m not feeling nostalgic since the convenience of modern life let’s me go to the supermarket and buy them by pounds or bunches!
If you haven’t tried Purslane before, this is your chance to do it with this mouth-watering pork-tomatillo stew. This stew is one of the most common ways that you will find purslane prepared in central Mexico. Another way to prepare it is to boil it and then fry it with scrambled eggs for brunch. Purslane’s flavor can be compared to that of spinach.
- 2 Lbs Pork chops 3/4 in. thick
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 bunches of purslane, cleaned and thick stems removed (About 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 Lb Tomatillos
- 4 Serrano peppers*
- 2 garlic cloves
- Water to cook tomatillos and Serrano peppers
- 2/3 cup of white onion chopped.
- 1/4 tsp. cumin ground
- salt to taste
* you can substitute the Serrano peppers using 2 jalapeno peppers
** This dish is so versatile that you can also use zucchini, chayotes, nopales or other green vegetables.
1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pork chops and brown well on both sides. This step will take about 15 minutes. Turn the pork at least once during the cooking time.
2. While the pork chops are browning, combine husked tomatillos and pepper in a saucepan covered with water. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook until tomatillos are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place chopped onion, garlic, cooked tomatillo, and Serrano peppers in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add a little of the tomatillo-cooking water to the blender if needed.
4. Once your pork chops are well browned, add the tomatillo sauce. Add the chopped purslane, cumin and salt. If you wish, you can mix in other veggies like I did here, by adding diced zucchini. It’s a great combination. Keep simmering on low heat for about 20 more minutes, until the pork chop meat is tender.
Serve with Mexican white rice (or pinto beans, as we do at home), along with lots of warm corn tortillas to dip into the sauce.