Pork chile verde just means pork with green chile peppers, which I’m sure everyone knows. But there’s one other green component that’s typically in a chile verde, and that’s tomatillos. If you’ve never worked with them before, I really think you should at least make this recipe to experience the deliciousness that is a tomatillo.
Tomatillos have papery husks, and once they’re removed, they look like green tomatoes. But they’re not related to tomatoes at all.
When you buy tomatillos make sure they’re firm, not wrinkled up or rotten. I try to buy mine all about the same size. They’re usually eaten cooked, but there are raw tomatillo salsas that I’ve tried; they’re just a bit too tart for me, so I stick with them in cooked sauces.
Tomatillos are very easy to prepare: Just remove the skins, snip off the stem, then rinse them in warm water. They are sticky, but the rinsing helps a little. Typically, tomatillos are browned in a large skillet before using, but I roasted them for this recipe. Here’s what I did to make this stew with green chiles and tomatillos:
Pork Chile Verde
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, quartered
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
2 bunches cilantro, cleaned, 1 bunch kept whole, the other finely chopped and set aside
4 pound pork butt, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 large cans chopped green chiles, or make your own, see poblano roast
3 cups broth – beef or chicken, or leftover pork broth from pork rillettes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cut up tomatillos, onion, and green onions on a jelly-roll pan and sprinkle with some olive oil. Toast them for about 30 minutes; they should be nicely caramelized.
Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil in a large dutch oven on the stove over high heat. In batches, brown the pork, sprinkling a little flour over the pieces in the pot. The flour will just add a little texture to the green sauce. Continue with the remaining pork, adding a little more olive oil as necessary.
When you are done with the pork, turn down the heat to medium, add the onion and celery, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and just give it a stir along with the other vegies, and then add the green chiles and 2 cups of broth. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, and season with oregano, cumin, and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, gently de-glaze the pot, then simmer for about 30 minutes.
After the roasted veggies have cooled a bit, place them in a jar of a blender. Add the whole bunch of cilantro, and the remaining 1 cup of broth. Blend until smooth, then pour the green sauce into the pot with the meat. Simmer the chile verde for about one hour and 30 minutes, or until a nice thick sauce has formed. Add the chopped cilantro, and taste for seasoning. I like my chile verde with a dollop of sour cream!
note: I usually make pork chile verde the day before I first serve it. Somehow, it’s just better that way.