Have you heard about how newborn babies can throw your routine into a bit of an upheaval? I’m pretty sure it’s a thing. For our first week home, I wanted to whip up a dish that we could eat all week, without burning a lot of thought or energy on preparation. A giant plastic container that would sit steeping in the fridge, that we could dip into as needed, on our own schedule, glassy-eyed from lack of sleep, while we try and figure out our new routine. Something hot, spicy, and comforting, a giant crock of liquid well-being that we could spin off into a few different meals. Mexican chile verde seemed to fit that bill.
This classic, versatile Mexican stew features big chunks of pork shoulder, slow-cooked in a tomatillo and pepper puree until the meat shreds apart into tender forkfuls. Like any good chili, this stew coaxes an incredible depth of flavor out of a few ingredients. We use a variety of fire-roasted peppers, with varying degrees of spice, to achieve the bright green color and a complex, smoky heat. Best of all, it gets better as it sits. Make it into nachos. Serve it with scrambled eggs. Spoon it over rice, fold it into tortillas, or use it to fill an enormous Mission-style burrito, as big as that new baby upstairs who is, for the moment, sleeping peacefully.
Chile Verde (Green Chili with Pork)
- 3 to 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 poblano peppers, split in half and seeded
- 5 cubanelle peppers, split in half and seeded
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
- 8 whole garlic cloves, not peeled
- 3 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, split in half lengthwise
- Vegetable oil
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and trimmed
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Pinch of cloves
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1. In large bowl, toss pork with about two tablespoons Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; toss and set pork aside.
2. Preheat broiler to high. On a large sheet pan, arrange poblano and cubanelle peppers skin-side up. Place under heat of broiler until skins blister and blacken, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to plastic bag, seal, and let peppers steam for about ten minutes more.
3. While peppers steam, place tomatillos, garlic cloves, and jalapeño peppers skin-side up on sheet pan. Drizzle with vegetable oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Broil until charred and softened, about ten minutes. Peel roasted garlic, and transfer soft cloves along with tomatillos, jalapeño peppers, and any pan juices to the bowl of a food processor.
4. Peel blacked skin off cooled poblanos and cubanelle peppers, and add to bowl of food processor. Don’t be too fussy about this; a few pieces of remaining skin are fine. Add cilantro, and roughly puree all ingredients (about 10 one-second pulses in the food processor).
5. Preheat oven to 225. In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil until almost smoking. Add half of the pork, and allow to brown completely, about 3-5 minutes. Add remaining pork, as well as the onion, and continue cooking, stirring often and breaking up brown bit on bottom of pan until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, and cloves, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
6. Add chicken stock and pureed chile mixture. Stir to combine, cover, and bring to a boil. Transfer to oven and cook until pork is fork tender, about three hours.
7. This is where you will control the consistency of the chili. Transfer pot back to stovetop, and adjust thickness by either adding water, or boiling additionally to reduce. Skim excess fat. Season to taste with more salt, and serve immediately with corn tortillas, diced onions, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.