Walk into almost any taqueria in this country and you will find chile verde on the menu. The chile will likely be made with chunks of pork shoulder, slow cooked in a green chile sauce of jalapeno chiles, garlic, and tomatillos. It’s a favorite filling for burritos and tacos, and wonderful just on its own with a bit of rice and tortillas. Many recipes call for puréeing raw tomatillos and adding them to the pork to cook. In this recipe we roast the tomatillos first, browning their skins, to bring out more flavor. I recently begged this recipe from my Acapulco friend, Arturo Vargas who was surprised I wanted it. “But Elise, it’s so easy, anyone can make chile verde.” Gracias, Arturo. We loved it.
Chile Verde Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
- 5 garlic cloves, not peeled
- 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
- 2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles (optional)
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
- 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork shoulder (also called pork butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh oregano or 1 Tbsp of dried oregano
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- Pinch of ground cloves
1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down, along with 5 unpeeled garlic cloves, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin. Remove from oven, let cool enough to handle.
If you want the additional flavor of chiles other than jalapenos, you can add a couple Anaheim or poblano chiles. Either use canned green chiles or roast fresh chilies over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened all around. Let cool in a bag, remove the skin, seeds, and stem.
2 Place tomatillos, skins included, into blender. Remove the now roasted garlic cloves from their skins, add them to the blender. Add chopped Jalapeño peppers, other chilies (if you are using them), and cilantro to the blender. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.
3 Season the pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well on all sides. Work in batches so that the pork is not crowded in the pan and has a better chance to brown well. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, lift pork out of pan and place in bowl, set aside.
4 Pour off excess fat, anything beyond a tablespoon, and place the onions and garlic in the same skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. If your skillet is large enough to cook the entire batch of chile verde, with the sauce and meat, then add the pork back to the pan. If not, get a large soup pot and add the onion mixture and the pork to it. Add the oregano to the pan. Add the tomatillo chile verde sauce to the pork and onions. Add the chicken stock (enough to cover the meat). Add a pinch of ground cloves. Add a little salt and pepper. (Not too much as the chile verde will continue to cook down and concentrate a bit.)
5 Bring to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.
Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Spanish rice and warmed flour tortillas or freshly made corn tortillas.
Yield: Serves 8.