Summer is in full swing here in New York and while it doesn’t seem like you would want a pot bubbling on the stovetop for hours, Chile Verde always strikes me as a quintessential summer dish: bought at a roadside stand in some dusty, hot, Mexican town on the way from one surf spot to another, ladeled into piping hot, homemade tortillas and liberally sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Heaven.
This version is nearly as good (although the lack of surfing-inspired appetite may cause it to suffer in comparison); relatively simple to prepare, it is made even easier by the frozen Chile Verde Base that I put up last summer (but you can make it from scratch with fresh or canned tomatillos). Like all stews, it stores really well and becomes even more flavorful after a day or two in the fridge. Great to re-heat for a quick lunch or dinner, the big batch I made on Tuesday is already gone. And that, my friends, is the worst thing about this recipe: before you know it, it will be gone.
Adapted from Chile Verde, by Elise and Arturu Vargas, at Simply Recipes
Traditional Pork Chile Verde
- 1 recipe Chile Verde Base (freshly prepared or frozen)
- 3 – 4 lb pork shoulder (Boston butt or pork butt), fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil or bacon grease
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano or 2 tbsp fresh, minced oregano (I used Mexican oregano from Rancho Gordo)
- about 2 cups stock, chicken, vegetable or other, enough to cover the meat
- pinch of ground cloves
- fresh cilantro for adjustments and garnish
- Season pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil or grease in a small Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering; brown meat on all sides (in batches if necessary, do not crowd the pot) then remove from pot and set aside.
- Drain off all but 2 tbsp of fat, add the onions and garlic to the pot, and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano; saute for 1 minute. Return pork to the pot; add the chile verde base, stock and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 2 – 3 hours, or until the pork is fork tender and the verde sauce has reduced and turned a rich greeny-brown color. Stir once an hour or so, to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Taste, adjust salt, pepper, oregano or cilantro and serve over rice or with whole wheat tortillas.
Yields 6 – 8 servings.
- For this batch, I used 3 large, bone-in pork shoulder steaks (about 3 and 1/2 lbs total). This actually made the browning much easier, as I did not bother to cube the meat, but simply browned the steaks, sauteed the onions & garlic, and then added everything into the pot to simmer for a few hours. When the pork was falling-apart tender, I removed the steaks, pulled the meat off the bones, and returned to the pot to warm through.
- I got the pork shoulder steaks from Gaia’s Breath Farm (Jordanville, NY) who sell at my local farmer’s market. Unfortuantely, I can’t recommend them; I’d love to, as they are an organic farm, they raise heritage-breed, pastured pigs (and other meat animals) and they are conveniently at my farmer’s market every Saturday, but… this is the third time I’ve tried their pork. Pork shoulder, chops and sausages. I’ve been singularly unimpressed each time. Tough meat, not a lot of flavor. (It’s strange; I’ve never had such tough, unflavorful heritage pork; maybe it’s the butchering?) I simmererd this batch of chile verde for four and a half hours (checked the meat at 2 hours, and then every 30 minutes subsequently) and the meat still was not as tender as I would have liked. I think we are at the 3-strikes-you’re-out point. Guess I go back to Flying Pigs; it’s totally worth the money, it’s just so much more convenient to shop at my farm market (not to mention the shipping costs, or the even higher costs of heading into the City Greenmarket).
Like all stews, this will thicken and improve on the second day and will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Tomatillos are in season in late summer. With frozen chile verde base and frozen pork, this dish can be made year round.