Chile Verde

We’ve made chili before using the more “traditional” red chili powder, tomatoes, and ground beef.  There is, however, another variety that is popular (and for good reason) – chile verde.  Green chili (quite literally), using shredded or pulled pork and a host of green chili peppers and tomatillos, has a flavor and character that is very different than its red chili cousin.  This version sticks with some fairly mild chilies, but can be adjusted easily for more heat.

There’s a reason this one is posted on Friday.  It takes a while…so you’ll want to plan it for a day (this weekend?) when you’ve got some time to work on it.  It will take about 4 to 4-1/2 hours from start to serving – so if you want it for dinner, you will want to start around lunch.  Much of that time is just letting it cook, so you can do other things, but be mindful to keep your eyes on it.  This is going to be a long post, so let’s get started.

Gather Up:

  • 4~5 pound boneless butt roast (also known as a Boston, Boston Butt, Blade, or Boston Blade roast…curiously enough it comes from the shoulder of the hog)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/4″ wedges
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly minced (or finely chopped…6 of one and some of the other, right?)¹
  • 6 anaheim chiles
  • 2 poblano chiles (for a touch more heat, you could also add a green jalapeño)
  • 5 good-sized tomatillos
  • 2 large tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (or 2 tsp dried)

Rub ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Mix all of the rub ingredients together well and coat the roast with them.  Don’t just sprinkle it on – really work the rub (they call it that for a reason) into the surface of the roast on all sides.  Set it aside for about 30 minutes and get the grill ready for smoking according to the methods appropriate for your grill.  For me, that’s as easy as firing it up and setting the temperature to 225 degrees (with a mix of mesquite, apple, and cherry pellets).  If you don’t have a grill, you could skip this step, but I’m not going to guarantee the results.  Meanwhile, also get the broiler started (unless you have another grill you can get set up for HIGH heat).

Once the roast has been rubbed and rested for 30 minutes, and the grill is ready for smoking, put the roast directly on the grate with the fat “cap” up and smoke for 30~40 minutes.  While the roast is on the grill, it’s time to prep the other veggies.  Our goal is to be done with this about the same time we’re done smoking the roast.  Arrange the chiles on a good sized pan or sheet and put in the oven directly under the broiler element (or place directly on the grate of that second grill), and turn them every few minutes until the skins have black spots all over and are blistering and coming loose from the flesh.

Transfer them into a large bowl (mine could have roasted a little longer) and cover immediately with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to seal in the moisture.  Let them sit like that for 5 or so minutes while getting the next batch started.

Batch number two – the tomatoes and tomatillos.  This is probably optional, as the tomatillos didn’t really “roast” the same way the chiles did (as far as the skin coming loose), but it was worth a trying.  The tomatoes will blacken and loosen like the peppers, so carry on.

While the second batch is nearing completion in the broiler, remove the first batch from the bowl and place on a cutting board.  Remove the skins.  This should be REALLY easy if you’ve roasted them long enough.  If you haven’t, like some of mine, then it can be a bit trickier…and if you miss a few small spots, just don’t tell anyone.  As you go, also cut the tops off the chiles, split them in half to remove the inner white membrane and most of the seeds.  Don’t lose track of the other batch in the oven, and when it’s done put it in the bowl and cover as well.

Also while the chiles and/or tomatoes are in the broiler, you need to sauté the onions and garlic in a little bacon fat until softened and starting to turn translucent.  Set aside, and keep working on the other veggies.

Very roughly chop up the peeled and seeded chiles and toss them in a bowl.  Peel the tomatoes, chop them up roughly (as well as you can, without the skins they tend to be pretty much just a pulp), and put them in there too.  Chop up the tomatillos (I left the skins on, as they didn’t really loosen, and they looked nice and tasty) and add them.  Add in the onions and garlic, and mix everything up well.

About now, you should have stayed occupied for the full 30~40 minutes that the roast was smoking.  Remove it from the grill and place it in a large aluminum roasting pan (unless you want to make a mess with your good one) – again with the fat cap still up.  Doesn’t look any different than when we started?  Not on the outside maybe, but believe me, things are different on the inside.  Get the grill temperature raised to 350 degrees indirect heat (or at this point you could switch over to using the oven).

Spread the veggie mixture all around the roast in the pan so it comes up the sides.  Pour the broth into the veggies, and sprinkle the fresh oregano leaves over top of them.

Seal up the pan very well with aluminum foil, using a couple of layers (I went with an overlapped layer each direction) and pressing well around the sides.  Stab a meat thermometer into the top so it is reading the center of the roast.  Do NOT poke it through the pan! Put it back on the grill (or in the oven) that is now at 350 degrees and cook until you get a reading on the thermometer of 190 degrees.  This should take about 2 to 3 hours, so you can turn your attention to something else in the meantime…just don’t lose track of it.

Still with me?  Good – we’re almost finished!  When you’ve hit that magic 190 degree reading (or even a couple degrees over), bring it back into the kitchen.  Transfer the roast to a large cutting board, and transfer everything else into a good-sized stock pot.

See, that 40 minutes smoking DID do something - see the nice pink smoke ring at the surface?

Using a fork and a sharp knife, work on cutting/shredding the pork into ~3/4″ pieces.  Discard any really big chunks of fat or tough pieces.  As you run out of room on the cutting board, transfer the pulled pork into the stock pot with the chiles and other goodies and keep going until the entire roast has been added to the pot.

Mix everything up really well, then simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes or so to let all of the flavors mix.  You can serve this over cauliflower rice (you may need a double-batch to handle this much chili), or eat it just like it is.  And unless you’re having a group over for dinner, this will yield a lot of leftovers.  Enjoy!

1 – This alteration of a more common phrase can be best called a “Peggy-ism” – of which Karen’s grandmother has plenty.  You may catch me using them from time to time…they tend to be contagious within the family.

One response to “Chile Verde

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