Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chile Verde

This is one of those all-day dishes that I have to make when the weather is cold. Chris and I first experienced Chile Verde at Z'Tejas in Austin as a special but I think it's permanently on their menu now. They serve this yummy, spicy, green pork stew in a small cast-iron skillet with cheese melted on top and fresh tortillas on the side. I may not have the small cast-iron skillets but my chile verde is pretty darn good. I started out with this recipe from Simply Recipes but I've changed so much about it over time that I think it's safe to claim it as my own recipe. Another good version of chile verde can be found in the Tacos de Puerco en Salsa Verde at Benito's restaurant in Fort Worth. I think this is one of Chris's favorite meals. Luckily, this recipe makes a ton and freezes well so we can enjoy it several times.

Time: 5-6 hours
Serves: 6-8

  • 1.5 pounds of tomatillos*
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 small or 1 large poblano pepper
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 3 roasted Hatch green chiles (or 1 small can of green chiles)
  • 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 3.5-4 pounds of pork butt/pork shoulder
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2.5 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sprinkle of Mexican oregano (you can also use plain oregano)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • flour tortillas and monterey jack cheese
  1. Peel off the papery husks from your tomatillos and rinse them well. There will be a sticky film on them and you want to get some of that off.
  2. Cut the tomatillos in half and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.
  3. To your baking sheet, add 5 of your garlic cloves that have been smashed but not peeled.
  4. Place your baking sheet in your oven and turn the oven to broil for 5-7 minutes until the tomatillos are lightly blackened. I put the baking sheet on the top rack to make this happen quickly.
  5. While your tomatillos and garlic are toasting, go ahead and roast your serranos and poblanos. I did mine in the toaster oven on broil, turning them every 3-4 minutes until they're blackened all over. You can also roast them over your gas burner. I wouldn't toss them in with the tomatillos just because the peppers take a bit longer and you have to flip them around a lot. Once you've roasted them, drop them in a paper lunch sack or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. This lets them stem so you can remove the skins.
  6. Allow your peppers and tomatillos to cool a bit while you peel and chop your onions and the rest of your garlic cloves.
  7. Once your peppers have cooled, peel off the skins and cut them open to take out the seeds and stems. I wear rubber gloves to do this - especially with the serranos. Drop the rest of the peppers into a blender.
  8. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves you've roasted with the tomatillos and add the peeled garlic and tomatillos into the same blender.
  9. Add your 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro to the blender too and blend the mixture together. You may need to add a few TBSP of water to get it all going.
  10. Cut your pork into 1 inch pieces, trimming off some of the fat as you go. This process can take a while and is something you can ask your butcher to do for you to save time. I'm pretty picky about trimming the fat though so I like to do it myself. Season your pork cubes very generously with salt and pepper.
  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat a small amount (1/2 TBSP) of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once your oil is hot, add some of your pork to the pot and let it brown on all sides. Be sure not to crowd your pot with pork so it can brown well. As all sides are browned, use a slotted spoon to remove your pork into a large bowl. This should take 5-6  minutes per batch and your pot will get nice and dark on the bottom - this is a good thing.
  3. Once all of your pork is browned, pour off some of the grease from the pan. You want to leave about 1 TBSP of that grease in there though. Sometimes it's easiest just to pour it all off, then add a TBSP back in.
  4. Heat that TBSP of pork grease and add the onions you chopped earlier. Then add your garlic and let it all cook for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Once your onions are softened, add your browned pork and your yummy green blender mixture into the pot. Now you can also add a sprinkle of oregano, your bay leaves and some salt and pepper (1/2 a tsp each to start).
  6. Add chicken broth to the pot so the liquid covers the meat - should be about 2.5 cups of broth.
  7. Turn your stove up to high to bring your chile verde to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. You'll simmer this, uncovered, for a good 2-3 hours. You know it's ready when you can pull the pork pieces apart with a fork.
  8. Remove your bay leaves and serve in soup bowls topped with monterey jack cheese and plenty of hot flour tortillas.

* Tomatillos -You can usually find these next to the fresh peppers in the produce aisle. Here's a pic of what they look like.

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