Someone I of whom I have grown very fond mentioned in passing liking a regional style of green chili, and while I had successfully tried making white chicken chili and enjoyed it, “making chili” always referred to the beef, bean, peppers and tomato style I first made for friends umpteen years ago.
Chili con Carne. Not too hot. My first bite of Chili was at the Wendy’s on Congress Street in downtown Portland, Maine on a cold January Saturday afternoon decades ago. I had to crumble the Saltine crackers into it in order to take the heat.
My mother was a classic New England home cook with a narrowly developed palate. She could roast a piece of beef and make gravy that would bring you to your knees, but she found my culinary curiosity frightening to the point that she openly expressed concern over my desire to learn how to make Lasagne one summer Wednesday afternoon in my 19th year. On the other hand, she could wolf down Finnan Haddie with the best of them, a dish I can’t even gaze upon without wondering how anyone could consider eating something that looked so grotesque.
We were at our cottage on Cape Cod, and my sister and three nieces were visiting for the week, and since my dad wasn’t there, an attempt at making Lasagne was deemed a safe experiment. She was probably thinking we could go out for fish and chips if the Lasagne turned out to be a disaster, scary as that fragrant and cheesy pan of bubbling deliciousness seemed to be. I digress.
Back to Chile Verde. When I noticed it being mentioned, I decided to take a stab at making it. With a friend coming over for a New Year’s Day dinner, it seemed like a perfect time to experiment with something I’d never before made. What are friends for if they are unwilling to eat our culinary experiments?
Ten web-based recipes and an hour or so of pawing through my 142 cookbooks later of looking for a formula, I decided that nothing of what I found seemed quite right, so I took the hint and came up with my own recipe. It was a hit all around the table, and my tried and true friend, who would honestly tell me if it were off the mark, swooned. JT & KC who love spicy food found it to be delicious and a nice balance of flavor and heat. TT simply refilled his bowl as a slight flush from the heat bloomed on his cheeks.
Forgive me for being so bold, but as I was recording how I prepared it, I thought it might make for a different sort of blog post. The garlic was some of the last of our homegrown.
And thank you to the person who inspired this. You have been inspiration for more than you may ever know. Namaste’.
Andrea’s Chili Verde (Green Chili with Pork)
Expect about 1 ½ hours to prepare and a long slow cooking time, can be adapted to pressure cooking – about 20 minutes with a few minutes to cool and thicken a bit after cooking
This recipe is a perfect fit for my 5 quart LeCruset Dutch oven. Makes 8-10 servings.
3 pounds pork loin, trimmed of most of its fat and cut into ¾” cubes (tenderloin can be substituted or used to make up the third pound, as pork loins often run about 2 pounds, or use boneless pork chops to make up the difference)
2 medium to large onions, peeled and chopped
4-5 Poblano chilies (I chose the largest ones I could find – about 2 1/2 cups chopped)
1 large Jalapeno – about 3 tablespoons, finely chopped. I remove the membrane and seeds but if you want the extra heat, leave them in to taste.
1 can fire-roasted green chiles, chopped, with their liquid
3 cups (a generous pound) of fresh tomatillos, skins removed, washed and chopped
1 good Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
Dash ground cloves
A pinch of oregano
2 ½ cups Chicken stock
Flour for dredging pork, about 4 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste
Thinly sliced scallions
Toss the cubed pork with the flour while you heat over medium-high heat a heavy pot large enough for all ingredients. I use my 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven. When the pan is hot, add about 4 Tablespoons olive oil, let it heat up to a shimmer, then add about 1/3 of the cubed pork. Brown lightly on all sides and remove from pan. Add a bit more oil and repeat until all of the pork has been browned. There will be a fond on the bottom of the pan.
Add the onion, chiles with juice, garlic, spices. Cook 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionaly until the vegetables begin to soften. Add about ½ cup of the chicken stock and scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the browned pork, the chopped tomatillos, and the remaining chicken stock.
Bring to a boil stirring occasionally, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, until the pork is very tender. Do not taste or adjust seasonings until it has been allowed to cook for an hour or so.
Serve with sour cream, thinly sliced scallions, and fresh cilantro to garnish as desired. Hot crispy corn bread on the side is a nice accompaniment.