Chile Verde Base

Throughout the year, I make a kick-ass chile verde, a Mexican stew of roasted tomatillos, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, garlic and slow-cooked pork shoulder. My recipe is only slightly adapted from Elise’s version on Simply Recipes, courtesy of her friend Arturo Vargas, and it’s a staple over the long, cold months of winter. Tomatillos, however, the main ingredient in the vegetable base, have a short season here in the Northeast: they ripen at the tail end of tomato season and, if you are lucky enough to find them at the farmer’s market, grab them, because they are gone in a flash. Since life is too short to go without chile verde, I make up several batches of this tomatillo-garlic-chile base and freeze it for use year-round.

The recipe below makes enough base for one batch of chile verde: I almost always double or triple the recipe to put up a lot of chile base at once. As preserving goes, this falls into the “quick & easy” category, and it reduces a substantial pile of tomatillos, chiles and herbs into neat jars in no time. Presumably, this recipe would pressure can well; though the sauce is chunky going into jars, it cooks down for several hours while making the chile, so there should not be any texture issues with a canned version. (I don’t pressure can, myself, but refer to the comments below for pressure canning conditions, graciously provided by reader Brandie.). Because of the lack of vinegar or other acid, this base is not safe for water-bath canning.

Chile verde base is a wonderful way to take advantage of tomatillos appearing at your local farmer’s market now and to preserve the last of the garden’s chile peppers, cilantro, garlic and oregano. It’s also my version of fast-food: put in a little effort now, and in a few months, all I’ll have to do is add some onion and pork, and let it simmer into deliciousness on the stove. Heaven!

Adapted from Chile Verde by Elise & Arturo Vargas at Simply Recipes

Chile Verde Base

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked & washed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1 large bunch cilantro leaves (about 2 cups loosely packed)
  • 4 medium jalapeño peppers, with seeds, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (optional)
  • additional chile peppers, as desired (optional)

METHODS

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler. Pile the tomatillos, whole, onto a roasting pan or large baking sheet. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and give it all a light spritz with olive oil spray (alternatively, drizzle with olive oil and toss to lightly coat). Broil, with the top rack close to the broiler, for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatillo skins have started to blacken and are fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. Peel the roasted garlic cloves. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times, until the mixture is finely chopped but not quite puréed (do this in batches if you are increasing the recipe; transfer each batch to a large bowl and mix thoroughly before transferring to containers to freeze). Transfer to a freezer container, label, and store frozen.

Yields about 2 and 1/2 cups chile verde base, or enough for one batch of chile verde.

OPTIONS

  1. If you have fresh oregano in the garden, you can add about 2 tbsp of fresh oregano leaves to the base. I usually don’t have much fresh oregano, so I add the dried herb at the time of cooking.
  2. The olive oil here is simply to promote browning during the broil step; if you are concerned about this small amount of fat, feel free to omit it.
  3. Chile verde is typically a mildly spicy dish, but I’m not one to call you out for making it spicier. Feel free to add whatever chile peppers you like, remembering that it is easier to add spice while cooking than it is to take it away.
  4. When freezing in glass, make sure to leave ample head space for expansion; if freezing in Mason or Weck jars, I typically leave the clips or the ring bands off of the jar until the contents are solidly frozen, just in case.

STORE

Frozen, up to 1 year.

SEASON

Late summer to early Fall.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Lanise,

    I haven’t canned this recipe, mostly because, to do so safely you would need to add some acid (vinegar, lime juice, etc). Lime juice would probably taste fine – just haven’t done the research to figure out how much I would need.

    I imagine it is perfect for pressure canning, but since I don’t own a pressure canner, I would have no idea how to approach that recipe.

    • Mary

      With a pressure canner, you would look up the canning time for each ingredient and the correct pressure, and then pressure can it at the time for the ingredient that takes the longest. So for example, if you were canning green beans and tomatoes in a pint jar, green beans take about 20 minutes at 11 pounds and tomatoes 25 minutes. So you’d can them together for 25.

  2. Brandie

    I pressure canned this recipe this year. I actually have another recipe, for an enchilada sauce that is so similar to this one (the other has a little onion, this one has more cilantro) that I split the difference between them so I could use it for either.

    To can the sauce base, I doubled the recipe above, and it made 5 pints. I pressure canned it for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, using one-inch headspace. The 5 pints would be awkward if I were going to split it in half, but it’s perfect to use 3 jars for chile verde and 2 jars for enchiladas.

    (FYI for the enchilada sauce, you fry the sauce base in a little oil, then add 2 cups chicken broth and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, add salt and 3/4 cup sour cream or heavy cream. Then you fry 12 corn tortillas for 10 seconds on each side in oil, then brush sauce on both sides, fill with shredded chicken, roll up in a baking dish, pour remaining sauce over, top with shredded cheese, and bake 15-20 mins at 400.)

  3. PF

    Nice recipe, as is your chile verde (it’s similar to mine, so of course, I approve) but for California readers, I recommend Casa Sanchez’s Salsa Verde as an easy substitute for yours.

    I slow-cook pork shoulder in the oven for 6-8 at 200 for various uses– pulled pork sandwiches, pork sugo, or an occasional pork pie. I’ll take some and stew it with the green salsa for about a half hour and thicken with ground pumpkin seeds (which is just pumpkin seeds pulverized in a spice or coffee grinder) at the end. Totally a cheat, but good. Especially over rice.

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