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. I usually smash the head of garlic (without peeling the individual cloves) and put them on a sheet pan along with the onions, Poblano peppers, and Jalapeños. 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 six minutes or until the peppers’ skins 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, put the sheet on a cooling rack to let the peppers 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. Dump them into a single layer on a sheet pan and then poke holes in every tomatillo to keep them from bursting. Roast these for about ten 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, split them open and remove the stems and 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. I also like to remove and discard any loose skin from the peppers as they add an unpleasant texture and make the sauce bitter.
Put all of the cleaned poblanos in a blender or food processor along with the onions, peeled garlic cloves, roasted tomatillos, and cilantro. I recommend putting only some of the Jalapeños in at first and then tasting the sauce before adding more. Blend the mixture to puree and give it a taste. If it needs more heat, add more Jalapeños.
How to make Pork Chile Verde
To make the chili, marinate the pork by sprinkling it with salt, cumin, and cinnamon and then drizzle the vegetable oil on top. Mix everything together 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. 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.
Add the chicken broth and return all of the pork to the pot. Add the honey, Mexican oregano, bay leaf, and Chile Verde Sauce and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and use a spoon to skim off any scum that floats to the surface.
Turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and let the chili cook uncovered. Be sure to stir it occasionally to prevent things from burning to the bottom of the pot. You also want to skim off any excess pools of oil as they rise to the surface.
After about 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 bit more 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.
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
- 1800 grams pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For Chile Verde Sauce
- 600 grams Poblano chili peppers (6 large peppers)
- 140 grams Jalapeño peppers (5 large, to taste)
- 375 grams onion (2 small onions, peeled and halved)
- 40 grams garlic (1 head, cloves separated)
- 1200 grams tomatillos
- 25 grams cilantro
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt (to taste)
- Cilantro (for garnish)
- Queso fresco (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven as hot as it will go or set it to broil.
- Sprinkle the salt, cumin, and cinnamon evenly over the pork, and then drizzle on the vegetable oil. Mix this together to distribute evenly and let the pork marinate while you prepare the green chili sauce.
- To make the Chile Verde Sauce, line up the Poblanos, Jalapeños, onions, and garlic 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 6 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 tomatillos and wash them repeatedly with cold water until they are no longer soapy. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they start to char on one side (about 10 minutes).
- When the chili peppers are cool enough to handle, put on some gloves and remove the stems, seeds, and any loose skin. Most of the heat in chili peppers is in the 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.
- Peel the garlic cloves and add them to the blender as well, along with the onions, cilantro, and roasted tomatillos. Puree the mixture.
- For the chile, heat a large dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the pork in a single layer. You probably won’t be able to fit it all in one batch, so divide it up into two or three batches. 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, add the chicken stock, honey, oregano, and bay leaf and return the rest of the pork to the pot. Add the green chili sauce and stir to combine.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, skim off any foam that floats to the surface. Turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and let this cook for about 1.5 hours, stirring periodically.
- After an hour or so, skim off any excess fat that pools around the edges of the pot.
- Taste the sauce and adjust with salt and honey to taste. Continue cooking the pork until you can cut a piece in half easily with a fork (another 30-60 minutes).
- Serve the Pork Chile Verde with warm corn or flour tortillas.