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Chile Verde con Cerdo (Green Chili with Pork)

I live in Colorado and have had my fair share of green chili. It's delicious, but it wasn't until I had authentic Mexican chile verde that I realized there is an alternative. Both are amazing but this one is my favorite because it tastes like pure peppers and pork. It doesn't have tomatoes and isn't diluted with flour and water. It's essentially just a well done salsa verde that then the pork stews in. In fact, to simplify steps, I added an alternative below using my favorite store bought salsa verde, Trader Joe's. Give either recipe a try for a delicious, vibrant, and warming stew. For a vegan alternative, substitute potatoes instead of pork and cook only 30 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

Ingredients (salsa verde from scratch)
  • 3.5-4 pounds pork shoulder 
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 pounds tomatillos (ideally fresh but canned is okay)
  • 5 poblano peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch of clove (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Ingredients (store bought salsa verde) - I halved the recipe which is easier in this version but feel free to double.
  • 12oz jar salsa verde (Trader Joe's brand is what I use)
  • 1.5-2 pounds pork shoulder 
  • 1/5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pinch cinnamon (optional)
  • smaller pinch of clove (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Trim pork shoulder into 1.5 inch cubes with fat removed but saved. Season with 1 tbsp kosher salt. Then cover a refrigerate while you continue with the other steps.
  • Add the pork fat to a stew pot with 1 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until the water evaporates, about 10-12 minutes. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes for browning to develop. Remove the cooked chunks and drain the fat. Then add 2 tbsp of fat back into the pot. Turn off heat and wait for steps below.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Rinse the tomatillos and peppers. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. 
  • Place tomatillos on sheet with stem side down. Add garlic leaving it unpeeled. 
  • Remove the jalapeno stem and cut in half. Keep the seeds and ribs on while roasting. They can be removed to dial in heat level later on. Place on sheet cut side down. 
  • Remove the poblano stems and seeds but cutting in half and using fingers to clean. Add to the sheet cut side down.
  • Cut onion unpeeled into eight segments with root end in tact then unpeel skin from each segment and add to the sheet.
  • Drizzle all the vegetables with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and broil with the element six inches from the rack for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the vegetables once deeply charred. Your choice how much of the burned pepper skins to unpeel. Feel free to leave it all on for additional smoky flavor.
  • Remove the jalapeno seeds and ribs but then add as much or as little as you want for heat to a food processor. I like half the seeds and ribs.
  • Unpeel the garlic. Remove the root end from the onions. And scrape everything including the tomatillos and tray juices into the food processor. Add the vinegar. Pulse 5-6 times into a chunky salsa consistency.
  • Reheat fat oil over medium heat. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and clove to the oil and allow to bloom for 30-60 seconds.
  • Add the green chile mix along with the rest of the seasonings (bay leaves, sugar, pepper, salt). Add the pork and stir to incorporate.
  • Cover the stew pot, place in the oven, and cook for 90 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves. Add chopped cilantro and serve.