Pork Chile Verde (Green Chili)
Chile Verde or Green Chili is a delicious Mexican stew made by cooking pork or chicken in salsa verde. In this recipe and video, I'm going to show you how to prepare the salsa from scratch using char-roasted aromatic, tomatillos and chili peppers.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- Most recipes only call for char-roasting the green chilies, but I roast the tomatillos and aromatics as well. This brings out the sweetness and umami in the tomatillos while giving the garlic and onions and earthier flavor.
- Marinating the pork before browning it, ensures the meat is well seasoned while allowing the spices to toast, bringing out their aroma.
- Using homemade chicken stock in the green chili sauce doubles up on the umami in the sauce.
- A small amount of honey balances out the acidity of the tomatillos.
Ingredients for Chile Verde
- Chili Peppers - Since this is green chile, I like to use a variety of green chili peppers. Poblano chile peppers are dark green and have a strong green pepper taste and a mild bitterness, but they don't have much heat. For that, I've used jalapeno peppers. The thing with jalapenos is that they have a huge range of heat levels depending on how they were grown. These ones were small, but they were extremely spicy (approaching habanero levels of heat), so I only added a few. I recommend roasting some extras and adding a few at a time until you hit a level of heat you're happy with. Other chilies that work well for this dish are Anaheim peppers and green Hatch chilies.
- Aromatics - Onions and garlic make almost anything taste better, and Chile Verde is no exception. I roasted two onions and a whole head of garlic until they're lightly charred. This brings out their sweetness and umami and imparts a wonderful smoky flavor.
- Tomatillos - They can be a little hard to find outside of the Americas, but these are an essential ingredient in Chile Verde, giving it its tangy taste and fruity flavor. It won't be quite the same, but if you can't find them, green (unripe) tomatoes will work in a pinch.
- Cilantro - I know not everyone likes cilantro, so you can leave it out if you must, but for me, this is an important flavor component for this chili.
- Pork - I like using pork shoulder for this because it has a good balance of meat, fat, and connective tissue. After cooking it, the tender pieces of pork become fork tender. I don't recommend using leaner cuts of pork for any stew like this because the long cooking times will force out most of the meat's moisture. Without collagen and fat to lubricate it, the meat ends up dry and pasty.Spare ribs will also work, but you end up with a lot less meat because of the bones. Pork belly is another option, but this tends to be a little too fatty.
- Spices - For spices, I keep it simple with just cumin and cinnamon. The trick is to marinate the pork with it, so when you brown the pork, you can toast the spices at the same time, bringing out their fragrance.
- Herbs - I used a combination of Mexican oregano and a bay leaf, but a small amount of epazote is also nice in Chile Verde if you can find it near you.
- Honey - Sweetness helps balance out the acidity, and the small amount of honey in this recipe isn't enough to make the chile overtly sweet, but it does mellow out the sharp tang of the tomatillos.
- Chicken Stock - I used homemade chicken stock, but canned chicken, pork, or vegetable stock will work fine.
How to Make Chile Verde Sauce
Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Mine only goes up to 540 F (280 C), but if yours has a broil setting, that will work best.
Now you need to prepare the vegetables and roast them. Set the Anaheim peppers, Poblano peppers, Jalapeños, and quartered onions on a baking sheet. It's important to use a skewer or knife to poke holes in the chilies, or they will explode in the oven.
These go in the oven and roast for about eight to ten minutes or until the skin on the peppers have blistered and started to char. Remove the pan from the oven and flip everything except the onions over and char the second side for about the same time. When they're done, transfer the peppers to a bowl and let them cool enough to handle.
For the tomatillos, remove their husks and stems and then wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove the waxy sap on the outside. Line them up in a single layer on the baking sheet and then poke holes in every tomatillo to keep them from bursting. Roast these for about ten to fifteen minutes or until the tops are charred. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for a bit.
To clean the chili peppers, peel any loose bits of skins then remove the stems. Split the peppers open and use a spoon to scrape out any seeds. The light green membranes that hold the seeds to the pod are where most of the capsaicin is, so if you don't want your chili too spicy, you can remove these as well.
Put the cleaned peppers in a blender or food processor along with the onions, roasted tomatillos and any accumulated juices and puree the mixture (you may need to do this in batches). I recommend putting only some of the Jalapeños in at first and then taste the sauce before adding more.
How to make Pork Chile Verde
The first thing you want to do is prepare a spice mixture by stirring the salt, cumin and cinnamon together in a bowl. Then, use your hand to mix the oil and grated garlic into the pork before sprinkling it evenly with the spice blend. Stir to distribute evenly, and set this aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Divide the pork into batches and add it in a single layer into the pot with the fattiest part facing down. Let this fry undisturbed until it's browned on one side and no longer sticking to the pot. Flip it over and brown the other side. Transfer the browned pork to a bowl and repeat until you've browned all of the pork.
Return all of the pork to the pot and add the Chile Verde Sauce, chicken stock, Mexican oregano, bay leaf, and chopped cilantro stems. Bring the mixture and then turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered for one and half hours. Stir the green chili periodically and use a spoon to skim off any scum or excess fat that floats to the surface.
After an hour and a half, taste the sauce and add more salt if it needs it (remember it's going to continue cooking for a while longer, so don't overdo it). If the sauce tastes too acidic, add a teaspoon or two of honey to mellow it out.
Let the Chile Verde simmer for another thirty minutes to an hour or until you can cut a piece of pork in half with a fork.
Chile Verde literally means "green chili," and it's a Mexican stew made by cooking meat(usually pork) in a sauce made with green chili peppers and tomatillos until it is fall-apart tender. It is also known as Puerco con Salsa Verde.
Tomatillo refers to both the plant and fruit of a nightshade species that is the tomato's distant cousin. The fruit is covered in a papery husk, which must be peeled before eating. With a sharp citrusy taste and herbal flavor, they benefit from being roasted before being added to dishes like this Pork Chile Verde.
I used a combination of poblano peppers and jalapeño chili peppers, but any combination of mild and spicy green chili peppers like Hatch, Anaheim, and Serrano will work.
Chile Verde is delicious with chicken, lamb, or even beef. Just be sure you use a cut with a lot of fat and connective tissue. That's because the long cooking times will render out the fat and dissolve the collagen, lubricating the individual meat fibers and making them fall-apart tender. If you use a lean cut of meat, the long cooking time will make it tough and dry.
All you need to serve this chile is a basket of hot tortillas (corn or flour will work). That being said, I also like to have some condiments at the table like fresh cilantro, queso fresco, chopped red onions, and wedges of lime. Green chili is also very good with potatoes, rice, or bread. It would go well with my Jalapeno Cheddar Rolls or Triple Corn Cornbread.
The great this about green chili is that there are so many uses for the leftovers. Heat the Chile Verde up and stuff a loaf of bread with it to make a torta, fry up some corn tortillas and eggs, make Huevos Rancheros, or shred the pork into the sauce and use it to stuff tamales.
Other Mexican Recipes
UPDATED JUNE 22, 2023: I've made a few minor improvements to the recipe so it no longer matches up perfectly with the video. Ingredient changes are using more pork, and cumin, using both Anaheim and Poblano Chiles and adding honey only after tasting the chili. The only major process change is to add the garlic to the marinade with the pork instead of roasting it.
- 2000 grams pork shoulder (cut into 3-inch cubes)
- 25 grams garlic (grated)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For Chile Verde Sauce
- 500 grams Anaheim chili peppers (3-4 large peppers)
- 200 grams Poblano chili peppers (2 large peppers)
- 140 grams Jalapeño peppers (4 large peppers, to taste)
- 400 grams onion (2 medium onions, peeled and quartered)
- 1200 grams tomatillos
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 large bay leaf
- 25 grams cilantro stems (chopped)
- Salt (to taste)
- Honey (to taste)
- Sweet onions (chopped, for garnish)
- Cilantro (minced, for garnish)
- Queso fresco (crumbled, for garnish)
- Move the oven rack to the top position. Preheat the oven as hot as it will go or set it to broil.
- Mix the 3 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl.
- Add the 2000 grams pork shoulder to a large bowl and use your hand to work in the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 25 grams garlic. Sprinkle the salt mixture evenly over the pork and mix it in to distribute evenly. Let the pork marinate while you prepare the green chili sauce.
- To make the Chile Verde Sauce, line up the 500 grams Anaheim chili peppers, 200 grams Poblano chili peppers, 140 grams Jalapeño peppers, and 400 grams onion in a single layer on a baking sheet and poke holes in the peppers with a knife or skewer.
- Roast the chilies on one side until the skin is blistered and starting to char (about 8-10 minutes). Flip the chilies over and continue to roast them until the second side starts to char. Set these aside to cool.
- Remove the husks from the 1200 grams tomatillos and wash them repeatedly with cold water until they are no longer soapy. Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they start to char on top (about 10-15 minutes).
- When the chili peppers are cool enough to handle, put on some gloves and peel away any loose skin (you don't need to get it all). Split them open and use a spoon to scrape away the seeds from the chiles. Most of the heat in chili peppers is in the light colored membranes that connect the seeds to the pod, so you can adjust the peppers' heat by removing these or leaving them in place.
- Add the cleaned chilies to a blender or food processor along with the onions, roasted tomatillos, and any juices from the peppers and tomatillos. Puree the mixture.
- For the chili, pre-heat a large dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add half the pork in a single layer with any fat facing down. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Once it's browned on one side, flip it over and brown the other side. Transfer the browned pork to a bowl and repeat with the remaining meat.
- Once your last batch of pork has browned on both sides, return it all to the pot, along with any juices. Add the green chili sauce along with the 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1 large bay leaf, and 25 grams cilantro stems. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Skim off any foam or excess oil that floats to the surface periodically and let this cook for about 1 ½ hours, stirring periodically.
- After your timer is up, taste the sauce and adjust with Salt to taste and add a teaspoon or two of Honey if the sauce tastes too sour. Continue cooking the pork for another hour or until you can easily cut a piece in half with a fork.
- Serve the Pork Chile Verde with warm corn or flour tortillas garnished with Sweet onions, Cilantro and Queso fresco.