There are a few ingredients here that are easy to find in Latin markets: plantains, chipotles in adobo, fresh rendered lard and recado rojo, or achiote paste. Achiote paste is necessary for the dish, and if you can't find it in a market, you can buy it online. A tip on the onion and bell peppers for the sofrito: Pulse them in a food processor to really chop them small. You can then use the processor bowl to puree the charred tomatoes without an extra clean-up step.
4Roma or other paste tomatoes,sliced in half lengthwise
1/4cupfresh rendered lardor 3 Tbsp olive oil
1red bell pepper,minced
1green bell pepper,minced
1to 3 chipotles in adobo,chopped
2to 3 pounds javelina,pork or turkey meat, cut into about 2-inch pieces
1quartbroth(chicken, pork, vegetable)
1baking potato,peeled and diced
1sweet potato,peeled and cut into chunks
1or 2 chayote squash,peeled and cut into chunks
2carrots,peeled and cut into chunks
1yellow plantain,peeled and cut into chunks
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Char the tomatoes. Set the halved tomatoes on a baking sheet and broil them until the tops are blackened. Keep an eye on them, but this should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Puree the tomatoes, char and all, in a blender or food processor and set aside.
Roast the garlic. Switch the oven to 375°F. It should preheat quickly, as it will already be warm from broiling. Slice the tops of the garlic heads off and set them in a nest of aluminum foil. Drizzle some olive oil over them, seal the foil and roast until aromatic and soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Make the sofrito. Meanwhile, heat the lard or oil in a soup pot and cook the onion and both bell peppers gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the 4 chopped garlic cloves and cook another minute or two.
Add the meat. Add the cumin, chipotles, achiote paste and the pureed tomatoes and mix well. Add the chunks of javelina or pork. Mix and pour in the broth.
Simmer. Add about 3 more cups of water and the diced potato. Add salt to taste. Simmer gently for 1 hour.
Add the roasted garlic. While the stew is simmering, the roasted garlic will be ready. Squeeze it out of the husks and mash and chop it into a paste. Add it all to the simmering stew.
Finish. After 1 hour or so, add the remaining vegetables and keep cooking until the meat is tender, probably another hour. Taste for salt and garnish with cilantro.
As I mentioned above, of all the stews I've made over the years, this one improves the best with age. It's better on day two than day one, and even better a couple days later. It should keep for a week or so in the fridge.