Pork Chili Verde (carne de cerdo chili verde, green chili or green chile stew) is a legendary dish rarely found east of the Rio Grande. Known as “the other chili” by chiliheads, this recipe is as authentic as they come.
Pork Chili Verde evolved from a stew concocted by the native Hopi and Anasazi tribes of the desert southwest many hundred years ago. They incorporated yams, potatoes, javalina (an aggressive, pissed-off peccary that looks like a wild boar) and large green peppers that were indigenous to Mexico and traded north. Eventually, by AD 700, the cultivation of these chiles (poblanos, Hatch New Mexican green, Anaheim varieties) spread throughout the desert southwest as well, and heavily influenced the regional Spanish culture after AD 1600. The use of peppers, some form of meat and spice boiled in a crude stoneware pot over an open fire spans back many thousands of years to a time well before the Aztec, Maya and Olmec cultures of middle America.
The recipe is traditionally quite spicy. Sadly, it is almost unheard of in the Midwest.
Its popularity today is evident the minute you step into a southwest restaurant or cantina. There you’ll see it served over burritos, on tacos, huevos rancheros, or all by itself with a big mug of Corona beer and some tortillas on the side for dipping.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, good quality (you can use part rendered bacon fat for a richer base)
2-1/2 to 3 lbs lean pork shoulder or cubes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 large Spanish onions, coarse chopped
1 bulb fresh garlic, sections peeled and fine chopped
2 dry bay leaves
3 large carrots (yes, carrots), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
6-8 jalapeños, diced, with seeds (gut ‘em if you want a milder batch)
(2) 28 oz. cans Hatch* whole mild New Mexican green chiles, drained and cut into 1/4 inch strips, OR
8 large, fresh poblano peppers, cored, roasted and peeled
(*You will have to go to a Mexican market for these. They are impossible to find in most supermarkets in such large cans.)
(5) 8oz. cans chicken stock (Swanson is a good brand)
1-1/2 tbs. dried Mexican oregano leaf
2 tsp. ground chipotle powder, to taste
2 tbs. cumin seed, toasted over medium heat in a skillet, and ground in a mortar
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 potato, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
2 tbs. masa harina (corn meal) used as thickener
Top with sour cream and fresh-chopped cilantro
In a five-quart dutch oven, (preferably cast iron) heat about two tbs. olive oil to medium-high heat and brown the pork until no longer pink. You will want to work in batches; possibly using another large frying pan as well. I like this method as it prevents crowding the meat, resulting in a more even sear.
Using a Chinese spider strainer, remove the meat from the fat and reserve in the dutch oven, covered on low heat.
Sauté the onions and jalapeños in a heavy, cast-iron fry pan until very tender, about 20 min. Transfer to the dutch oven. Carefully sauté the chopped garlic by reducing the heat, as it burns easily and will taste bitter if scorched.
Increase heat on dutch oven to medium. Add the chicken stock, spices and Hatch chiles or poblanos. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-1/2 hours uncovered, stirring frequently. Add the carrot and shredded potato and cook an additional 1/2 hour until tender.
For best results, prepare the day before and then reheat and serve. Chili is one dish that really benefits from an overnight rest. You can add the cornmeal at this time to thicken it up to your liking, but generally Green Chili should have a stew-like consistency. You may also adjust the seasoning (salt/heat) at this time.
Freezes well… but you won’t have any leftovers.
Makes 4.5 quarts.
Roasting poblano peppers with a propane torch. The tough outer skin is unpalatable and should be removed before baking.