Turkey Chile Verde

Chile verde made with turkey thigh meat and homemade tomatillo salsa verde.

Turkey Chile Verde in a bowl
Elise Bauer

We have an abundance of tomatillos in our garden this year. Whereas the tomatoes have been suffering from too much water early in the season, too little heat, nematodes and wilt, the tomatillos we planted are vigorous. A couple volunteers from last year's crop that are having a good time of it as well.

Are you familiar with tomatillos? They look like small-ish green tomatoes, but surrounded by a papery husk.

It's best to pick tomatillos while they are still green, if you wait too long, they can lose their distinctive tartness. The best thing to make with them is salsa verde, or green salsa.

Garden Tomatillo
Elise Bauer

With this weeks bounty we decided to make a Mexican chile verde, but instead of using pork which is traditional, using turkey thighs instead.

By the way, chile verde made in state of New Mexico is made with Hatch green chiles. Chile verde made in most of Mexico is made with tomatillos. It's the tomatillo salsa verde that makes the dish green.

So, same name, different dish. The dish we're working on today is the tomatillo variety.

I have found that turkey needs more help, when it comes to seasoning, than pork. It also greatly benefits from a little smoky flavor.

So, I've added more spice than I would normally with a pork chile verde, and also included some chipotle chile powder for a touch of smoky flavor. But the amounts are just guidelines, and depend so much on your specific ingredients, and taste.

By the way, my dad says "let your readers know that this food critic gives it 5 stars." My mom just brought over a huge bowl of tomatillos from her garden (as if I don't have enough) and wants me to make it again. Enjoy!

Turkey Chile Verde

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Servings 8 servings

* You can moderate the heat of this dish with the seeds from the jalapenos. Taste the tomatillo sauce after you blend it. If it needs more heat, blend in some of the jalapeno seeds.

** If you can only get bone-in, skin-on, that's okay. Remove the skin and discard or save it to use it to make turkey bacon. Cut as much meat as you easily can away from the bone, and then cook the meaty bone with the turkey chunks. Remove the bone when the meat is cooked and shred the meat from the bone.


Salsa verde:

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green tomatillos

  • 5 cloves garlic, peel on

  • 1 jalapeno, stems and seeds removed, chopped*

  • 2 poblano chiles

  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, roughly chopped, including stems

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • Pinch sugar


  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless turkey thighs

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder

  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Pinch ground cloves


  1. Roast the poblano chiles:

    Roast the poblano chiles over a gas burner or under a broiler, until blackened almost all over. Place chiles in a paper bag, close the bag, and let the chiles steam in their own heat for a few minutes.

    Remove the chiles from the bag, remove the charred skin, the stem and the seeds. (For a step-by-step, see How to roast chile peppers over a gas flame.)

  2. Broil the tomatillos:

    Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos. Rinse the tomatillos with water (they may be a little sticky).

    Slice the tomatillos in half and place cut-side-down on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Toss the garlic cloves (peel on) in with the tomatillos.

    Cook under a broiler until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool to the touch, then remove the garlic cloves from their skins.

    halved tomatillos cut side down on roasting tray
    Elise Bauer
    roasted tomatillos for chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  3. Make the salsa verde:

    Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño, poblanos, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and sugar in a blender. Start on a low speed and then increase the blender speed and purée until smooth. Set aside (can make a day ahead and refrigerate until needed).

    salsa verde ingredients in blender
    Elise Bauer
    blend salsa verde for turkey chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  4. Prepare the turkey thigh meat:

    Cut the turkey thigh meat into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks, cutting away and discarding any tough gristly bits or big pieces of fat. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    turkey meat for chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  5. Brown the turkey:

    Heat olive oil in a large (6 to 8 qt) Dutch oven or high-sided sauté pan on medium high or high heat (hot enough to sear the meat).

    Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan (a crowded pan will make it harder for the meat to brown), sear the chunks of turkey on all sides (do not stir the meat in the pan until they have browned well). Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

    brown turkey meat for chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  6. Sauté onions, add garlic:

    Add the chopped onion and the cumin to the pot, and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).

    Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds more.

    saute onions for turkey chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  7. Add turkey, tomatillo sauce, stock, spices to pot:

    Return the turkey to the pot. Add the tomatillo sauce and the chicken stock.

    Add the chipotle powder, oregano, bay leaves, and ground clove. Add a teaspoon of salt, and a little freshly ground black pepper.

    add salsa verde to browned turkey in pan for chile verde
    Elise Bauer
  8. Simmer 3 to 4 hours:

    Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low (enough to maintain a low simmer), while the pot stays uncovered. Cook for 3 to 4 hours, uncovered, until the turkey is tender.

    If at some point you think that too much liquid is going to evaporate, cover the pan. Otherwise keep it uncovered. You want the sauce to become more concentrated. Adjust seasonings to taste. You may need to add more salt than you would expect.

    Serve in a bowl, with chopped fresh cilantro, and sides such as chopped avocado, thinly sliced lettuce that has been seasoned with vinegar and salt, sliced radishes, thinned sour cream or crema fresca, and with fresh heated tortillas or tortilla chips. Or serve with rice and beans, or wrapped up in a large flour tortilla, burrito style.


Pork chile verde from here on Simply Recipes

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
446 Calories
22g Fat
20g Carbs
45g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 446
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 200mg 67%
Sodium 597mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 45g
Vitamin C 27mg 136%
Calcium 54mg 4%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 994mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.