Chili Verde with Pork

chili verde with porkChili verde, or green chili, is not very common outside the Southwest which is really a shame because it embodies some of the finest flavors of Mexican cuisine. Traditionally it made with chunks of pork, carnitas, cooked separately from a green sauce of tomatillos and green chilies. Of course fresh tomatillos are best but canned ones make an acceptable substitute. However, fresh chilies (or thawed frozen ones) are essential. I add hominy to mine because I like its texture but can leave it out, especially if you serve it over rice or with beans. And it is very good with chicken too, either cooked for the purpose or left overs.

Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes (I use the meat from the smaller, fatter end of the loin)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 glove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ bottle beer, any lager or mild ale will do (or just leave it out)
  • Water
  • ⅓ cup dried white hominy or one 14-ounce can, drained
  • 1 28-ounce can of tomatillos or 1½ pounds fresh
  • 2 green Anaheim or poblano chilies (bell peppers will do, too, but increase the jalapeños)
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño chilies
  • Oil, about 3 Tablespoons, divided use
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • Salt as needed

Method

Season the pork cubes with sale (go easy on it if you are using canned tomatillos because they can be pretty salty) and put everything in a pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes then allow pressure to drop naturally. Drain the meat, reserving the cooking liquid. Whatever you do not use for the chili will make very good Mexican rice.

Rinse the hominy well and put into a small sauce pan with about a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

If using fresh tomatillos, husk and rinse them, then place on a sheet pan under a hot broiler, turning occasionally until they are charred on all sides. If using canned, simply drain them. Put the tomatillos into the jar of a food processor along with any liquid in the pan.

Char the chilies either under a hot broiler or, as I do, with a plumber’s torch. Wrap them in a towel to cool for about 10 minutes then rub off the skins. Cut off the stems and remove the seeds. Chop coarsely and add to the tomatillos in the food processor.

Place a Dutch oven or large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of the oil and, when hot, the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add to the food processor along with the oregano.

Pulse the food processor to reduce the vegetables to a smooth but slightly chunky puree adding a bit of the pork cooking liquid as needed.

Pour enough oil into the Dutch oven or skillet to just lightly cover the bottom. Put over high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Dump in the contents of the food processor all at once and sear for a couple of minutes then turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until the sauce darkens and thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the hominy. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Gently fold the pork cubes into the sauce and simmer until heated through. Taste a last time then serve hot, alone or over rice, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a few pickled jalapeño slices.

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