The weather is starting to get nippy as we head into the first full day of autumn. This is a perfect time to share one of my favorite warm-me-up dishes—Hatch Chile Verde.
This dish, when done right, is a smoky stew with lots of tender chunks of pork that can be cut with a spoon. It is bright (from the tomatillos) and rich (from the pork and all the Mexican goodness) at the same time. Unfortunately, when done wrong, Chile Verde can be heavy, greasy and bland with either too much sauce from a can or too few chunks of meat.
Which is sad, because this savory green sauce is so simple to make. There’s no need to even find the can opener. It is well worth the trip to the store for fresh tomatillos and raiding your freezer for some Hatch chiles. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute a combination of Anaheim chiles, poblano chiles, and one jalapeño.
What Chiles Should I Use for Hatch Chile Verde?
This recipe is great one for experimenting with your heat tolerance. Remember that, even on the same plant, chiles can differ in spiciness. To tone down the spiciness of a chile, remove both the seeds and the membrane that attaches the seeds to the inner wall of the chile.
When roasting, removing the transparent skin of the chiles removes a little bit of the heat as well. This step also helps with the mouth-feel of this Hatch Chile Verde since the skins can feel a tad slimy to the tongue.
Learn more about Hatch chiles here.Print
A rich smoky dish of braised pork roast chunks nestled in a bright sauce of tomatillos, Hatch chilis and onions.
- 1–1/2 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2” cubes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Chile Verde Sauce
- 1 pound tomatillos, (about 8 medium)
- 6–8 Hatch chiles
- 2 yellow onions
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chicken boullion powder (I like Knor brand)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if you can)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1–2 teaspoons powdered cumin
- 2–3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons masa, if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
- 2 fresh limes, for garnish
- In a shallow dish, combine flour, 1 tablespoon cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Dredge the meat pieces in the flour mixture to coat well.
- Heat the oil to medium-high in an oven-proof dutch oven.
- In small batches (so the pan doesn’t get crowded), brown the pork cubes on all sides. Remove and set meat aside until all the pork is browned. Remove dutch oven from heat and set aside.
- Remove the paper husk from the tomatillos and wash the sticky reside off. Cut each tomatillo in half from stem to end. Remove paper from onions and slice in half.
- Preheat oven to broil, position oven rack to 5″ below top heating element in oven.
- Arrange the chiles, onion halves, and tomatillo halves on a baking sheet and place in oven. Watching carefully so as not to burn anything, use tongs to turn the chiles so all the sides blister and turn dark. If you have a gas stove, this step can be done by placing a rack directly on the stove grate and turning on the gas flame. Using tongs, arrange the chilies on the rack and rotate them to blister all the sides, remove and replace with tomatillo halves (skin side down) and onion halves, (cut side down) until all the vegetables have been slightly roasted.
- For both the oven and gas stove method, place roasted chiles in a bag and let cool slightly. Remove the blistered skins of the chiles and tomatillos by rubbing back and forth.
- Remove seeds and membranes of chiles if desired (to decrease the spiciness), by cutting the chilies in half lengthwise and using a knife or spoon, scrape out the seeds and membrane. You can remove the seeds from as many or as few chiles as you like.
- Place the tomatillos in a food processor and coarsely chop. Add half of the chiles and one onion coarsely to chop.
- Move oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 300°F.
- Return the dutch oven to the stove and add the chopped tomatillos, chiles and onion. Using a heat resistant spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the pork chunks and minced garlic to the dutch oven and stir in the chicken bouillon powder, remaining cumin, oregano, and water.
- Chop the other onion and reserved chiles into 1″ pieces and add to the dutch oven. Add the bay leaf. Cover the dutch oven and place in oven.
- Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until meat is tender and can break apart easily with a fork.
- Taste the sauce and add a bit of salt and pepper if the flavor is dull. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in masa, a tablespoon at a time, if the sauce needs to thicken. Add more water (1/4 cup at a time) if the sauce is too thick.
- Just before serving, stir in the minced cilantro.
- Serve with lime slices, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.
Fresh tomatillos can be found in the produce section of the grocery store. They look like green tomatos wrapped in green paper husks. Look for firm tomatillos that fill the paper husks.
Definitely use Hatch chiles—frozen are fine—in this dish. Anaheim chiles and poblano chiles can be substituted.
Mexican oregano is earthy and not the same as Greek oregano. Do not use powdered oregano as it will be way too much.
This dish can be finished in a slow cooker instead of the oven. You can also use a pressure cooker, cook for 25 minutes on high and let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes.