Chile Verde is a dish with a somewhat spotty history. While it’s most likely based on the Mexican dish Carne De Puerco En Chile Verde (pork with green chilies), it’s taken twists and turns as it made its way across the border. At its core, this is a pork dish that’s braised for hours in green things like tomatillos and green chilies. The tangy fresh flavours of the green stuff juxtaposes the richness of the tender slow cooked pork making this a favourite at taquerías all over the South West.
Unfortunately many of them take shortcuts, using canned veggies or leaner cuts of pork. Since moving out east I’ve yet to even see it on a menu, much less have a good bowl, so I started on a quest to make the perfect Chile Verde.
I won’t lay any claim to authenticity here, but I will say that this is the best Chile Verde I’ve ever had. I know you’re probably thinking “Well of course he’s going to say that about his own recipe”, but I think my claim is justified. Here’s why:
1) Everything is either browned or roasted which gives the dish a concentrated sweet, smoky flavour. 2) I hand chop everything which makes for a nice chunky texture that you don’t get with blended preparations 3) While there’s no wrong way to make Chile Verde, for me, this strikes the perfect balance between tart, sweet, savoury and spicy.
I also made my own corn tortillas which is so simple, and the results taste so much better, there’s no reason why anyone should buy the packaged ones. You can rehydrate a big batch of Masa Harina and leave it in the fridge, pan grilling only what you need at each meal, so they are fresh.
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to make a big batch of this is what you can do with the leftovers. Shredded and stuffed into masa, it makes for a sublime tamale and as you can see from the photo above, Chile Verde con Huevos makes for an awesome breakfast.
2 lbs fatty pork butt cut into large chunks (2″+)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs kosher salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp cumin
2 Anaheim chilies cut in half lengthwise
4 Serrano chilies
1.5 lbs tomatillos scored so they don’t pop
4 large cloves garlic
1 large onion cut into 12 wedges
2 C chicken broth
3 cilantro roots with about 5″ of stem attached
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the pork butt in the oil, garlic, cumin and salt for at least an hour.
Move the oven rack to the top position. Put the chiles, tomatillos, garlic and onion on a baking sheet and put under a hot broiler. Allow everything to char on top then flip and char the other side. Remove and allow to cool.
Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until very hot then add the pork (no need for oil). Leave the pork undisturbed until it is golden brown. If the pan was hot enough, the pork should not stick to the pan when it is ready to flip, if it sticks, leave it there longer.
Once the pork is browned on both sides, add the chicken stock , cilantro roots and stems, oregano, cinnamon, and honey. Destem and seed the roasted peppers (leave the seeds in the Serrano chilies if you want it spicy), core the tomatillos then roughly chop all the roasted veggies and add them to the pot along with any juices on the baking sheet.
Turn down heat to medium low and partially cover the pot with a lid (leaving room for steam to escape). Simmer for 3-4 hours or until the meat falls apart when a fork is inserted. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, simmer with the lid off allowing the chile to thicken (should be about the consistency of salsa). Salt and pepper to taste and serve with warm (preferably home-made) tortillas.