Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pork Chile Verde + Ancho Chile Salsa

By Julie

I'm sorry if this dish is difficult for some of you to make. I stocked up on green chiles this summer (as everyone in Colorado does) and froze them. So I had New Mexican Hatch chiles at my disposal. If you're not as lucky to have these covetable chiles in your freezer, you can use Anaheim, which you may not have readily available in your grocery store. A well-stocked one should, but if not, you could use jalapeños, just a bit less. You might also have trouble finding tomatillos in a smaller, less well-stocked grocery store.

Green chile is very different from what most people think of chili. It's more of a sauce, it has no beans, and it's always loaded with pork. It's a big thing here - instead of talking about the place with the best pizza, people talk about the restaurant with the best green chile. You can use it as a sauce or you can eat it from a bowl, which is what I like to do.

If you'd like you could add extra vegetables such as zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, or carrots. I served this with avocado and cotija cheese, which if you haven't tried you must. It's a hard, salty, crumbly Mexican cheese that I think is to die for. Sour cream, extra cilantro, and guacamole are of course other toppings that would work.

The ancho chile salsa that I topped the chile verde off with is incredible. If you've never used dried peppers, don't be scared! They're not hard to use, and the flavor is unmatched. Ancho chiles are smoky and rich. I can't find exactly which pepper they are fresh - there seems to be some discrepancy on the world wide web about whether it's a pasilla pepper or poblano, as those two are used interchangeably often, apparently. In any case, dried ancho chiles are a deep red color and come sold in a plastic cellophane bag, like dried mushrooms. I plead you don't skip this step! You won't regret the bit of extra effort!

I made this recipe in a slow cooker. I started it after lunch time and let it cook until dinner time. You can certainly do this all on the stove as well. It all depends on your time frame. If you've got a bit of time in the middle of the day on a weekend, then I'd say go ahead and use the slow cooker. It would be hard to get this ready for dinner time on a weekday, unless you get home from work pretty early.

pork chile verde
adapted from Bon Appétit, serves 6

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 pound tomatillos, husked, washed, and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/2 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems
olive oil/fat
3 garlic cloves
1 2 to 2 1/2 pound pork shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 green chile (such as Hatch or Anaheim), chopped (or roasted, seeded, and chopped)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1. Puree 1 cup chicken broth, 1/4 of tomatillos, green onions, cilantro with stems, and garlic in a food processor. Set salsa verde aside.
A note on the salsa verde: You can substitute about 1 1/2 cup of jarred, prepared salsa verde for this step, which you can find in the salsa section, if you cannot find tomatillos. You probably will not need to add any additional salt to the overall dish if you do this.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon or so of oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add pork to pot in a single layer. You may have to do this in batches. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper as it's cooking. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until browned, 4 minutes total. Remove pork with slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

4. Add in cumin seeds and continue to sauté until onion is beginning to brown and the cumin seeds are toasted, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the rest of the tomatillos and cook until they begin to brown, about 8 minutes. If you did not roast your chiles, you can add them in at this step along with the tomatillos.

6. Add contents of pot, pork, reserved salsa verde, 1/2 cup broth, chiles (if roasted and set aside), oregano, and potatoes to slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Notes on using stove top:
After step 5, add in pork, salsa verde, 1/2 cup broth, chiles (if roasted and set aside), and oregano to pot. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 2 hours. Add the potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and thin with any additional broth if desired.

ancho chile salsa

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce of dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Heat oil in a small skillet and add the chiles. Fry them for about 2 minutes, until they become fragrant and turn a bit lighter. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside.

2. In same skillet, add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Add water to pan.

3. In a food processor, add the chiles, garlic and water, honey, and cinnamon. Season with salt.

Serve the chile verde with the ancho salsa, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and/or anything else you'd like.

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