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Our family is doing a Whole 30 this month, and so far we’ve managed to prevent food boredom, which is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. Part of that has been due to expanding our usual repertoire of ethnic dishes to include ones we don’t make often, as well as a few new ones.
I can’t recall if I’ve made chile verde before, but if I have, it’s been years. I do remember that 2012 brought a glut of tomatillos to the garden – I never expected them to produce so much! I made multiple batches of green taco sauce, and then at a loss of what else to do, canned a bunch plain in quarts and froze the rest.
I never made anything with them, so the canned tomatillos never got used, and I either gave them away or, sadly, tossed them out. The frozen ones were still rattling around in a ziplock bag in the freezer, looking as lovely and fresh as the day I put them in. I would have expected some amount of freezer burn in the intervening years, but maybe they survived because they are so waxy.
Since we also have a whole pig in the freezer right now, chile verde seemed like a great way to combine them into a dish we don’t often get to enjoy. I used the Simply Recipes Chile Verde as a starting point, but braised it instead, so I could pop it in the oven and walk away until dinner time.
I would normally use a pork butt for a recipe like this, but one of the drawbacks to having a freezer full of pig is that sometimes your butcher just labels everything as a “fresh ham roast” and you have to guess at what part you’re cooking. I ended up with a piece with a complicated bone through the middle of it, so cubed what I could and pulled the rest off the bone after cooking.
I also made a few modifications to fit my family’s dietary needs, most notably in the use of asafetida* rather than garlic and onions, since there is an onion allergy in the family. Slow-cooked onions, and particularly red onions, are tolerated better than other varieties, so that’s what I used.
We served this in bowls with guacamole, and salad on the side. It was very satisfying, although I’ll serve it with corn or flour tortillas next time, assuming we’re not still doing the Whole 30 or avoiding grains.
Pork Chile Verde
Adapted from Simply Recipes
This recipe makes about 10 cups of sauce – half for now, and half frozen for an easy dinner later.
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 2.5 lbs tomatillos, washed well
- 1 red onion, peeled and halved (optional)
- 2 jalapeno chiles, halved and seeded
- 1 Serrano chile, halved and seeded
- 2 Anaheim chiles, halved and seeded
- 2 poblano peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and lightly chopped
- 1 quart chicken broth
Ingredients for the Stew:
- 1/2 recipe of chile verde sauce (above)
- 3-4 lb pork roast, cubed – keep the bone if it has one
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Alternative: 1/8-1/4 tsp asafetida* (see note below)
- pinch of ground cloves
- salt and pepper
Directions for the Sauce:
- Roast the tomatillos and onion under a broiler until the skins are partially blackened. Set aside, along with any juices released.
- Roast the chiles under a broiler until the skins are blackened. Set aside in a paper bag or enclosed space until cool enough to handle, then remove the skins.
- Set oven to 350F.
- Blend the tomatillos, onion, chiles, cilantro, and chicken broth together into a sauce.
- Divide the sauce in half (approximately 5 cups). Use one half in the stew, and freeze the other half for later.
Directions for the Stew:
- Heat a large dutch oven* to medium high heat. Add the olive oil, and sear the cubes of pork, working in batches if needed. If there was a bone, sear it on all sides.
- Add onions and garlic, and sauté about 5 minutes, or until limp. Alternative: Add asafetida and sauté for about 30 seconds.*
- Add all the meat back to the dutch oven, along with about 5 cups of sauce, or enough to cover the cubes of meat. Add the pinch of ground cloves.
- Bring ingredients back up to a simmer, then put the lid on the pot and put it into the oven.
- Braise in the oven for 2-2.5 hours, or until the pork is tender and the sauce is reduced. If the bone in the pot is large, flip it over approximately halfway through cooking.
- Remove the bone from the pot before serving. Remove any additional meat from the bone and add it back to the pot.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Doing this at the end prevents the dish from being over seasoned as it cooks down and condenses.
- Serve in bowls with tortillas, guacamole, and a simple salad on the side.
For the Second Batch of Sauce:
Oven Braised – Defrost the other half of the sauce, and follow the directions for the stew.
Slow Cooker– Really short on time? Don’t even worry about defrosting anything. It loses a little depth of flavor that comes from browning the meat, but it’s still absolutely delicious.
- Pop a frozen pork roast and the frozen block of sauce in the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- If you’re home and can do so, flip the roast over and stir things around at the halfway point.
- Pull the pork into chunks, stir well, and serve.
*Note: I used asafetida in this recipe to accommodate a garlic and onion allergy. Skip it if you don’t need to avoid onions.