Costillas De Puerco En Salsa Verde Con Nopales ( Pork Ribs And Cactus With Salsa Verde)
2 Lbs. St Louis Style Pork Ribs, cut into individual ribs and in half to create smaller ribs
1 Lb. Nopales, spines trimmed and sliced
10 Tomatillos, husked and rinsed under water
2 Small White Onions, peeled and quarter
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled
5 Chile De Arbol
1/3 C. Fresh Cilantro, loosely packed and chopped
2 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
Sea Salt, to taste
Mexican Red Rice or White Rice
Before you start cooking the ribs, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry, this will help the ribs brown nicely.
Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a baking sheet add the tomatillos, serranos, 1 1/2 onions, and 2 garlic cloves. Roast them for 35 minutes flipping them half way. While they roast, heat up a small skillet over medium-high heat add the chiles de arbol and toast for 30 seconds stirring frequently, keep your eye on them, they can burn quickly. Remove stems and set aside, with the roasted tomatillos, onions, serranos and garlic.
Lower the oven heat to 325 degrees. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the 2 tablespoons of avocado oil over medium-high heat. Season all sides of the ribs with salt and add the ribs in a single layer to the hot oil. Work in batches making sure you don’t crowd the pot. Cook them turning occasionally to make sure all sides are evenly browned, 8-10 minutes. Once all the ribs are browned, set them aside and reserve the fat left in the pot for the salsa. Clean the pot and put the ribs back in with 1/2 of the onion and 2 garlic cloves. Add enough filter water to cover the ribs, cover the pot and tranfer to the oven, cook for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender.
While the ribs cook make the salsa by combining the roasted tomatillos, serranos, onions, garlics and chiles de arbol with a few pinches of salt in your blender. Blend until salsa is close to smooth with a bit of texture.
For the nopales, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, season with a few pinches of salt and add the nopales cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Once the meat is done cooking, remove the ribs from the pot. The liquid, onions and garlic cloves left inside can be tossed. Wipe the pot clean, add the reserve pork fat, over medium heat, carefully add the blended tomatillo salsa. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Lastly, add the ribs, cactus, and cilantro to the salsa, gently combine everything and season with salt to taste. Serve with rice and tortillas. Enjoy!
If you have a hard time finding chiles de arbol you can omit them and add an extra serrano pepper.
Nopales are important to the recipe, I understand not everyone will have access to fresh nopales, but whatever you do please don’t use jarred nopales they are not good. Save the recipe for when you come across this delicious and nutritious cactus.
This is an updated version to my original recipe using the cooking method that I learned from “Nopalito“ by Gonzalo Guzmán.