So in 2009 I had the privilege of staying in Juneau, Alaska for the summer. Despite being a capital city, Juneau’s population is only around 40,000. In combination with being able to access the city only by boat or plane, Juneau really acts more like a small town than anything else. I wound up staying with two former Californians (Hi Swansons!) who have a special place in their heart for burritos. And only in Juneau do they have absolutely fantastic pork chile verde at the local 24 hour convenience store. So, needless to say, I got hooked on pork chile verde really quick.
While there is great Mexican food in CT, I have yet to find a great pork chile verde within reasonable driving distance. So I am forced to recreate it myself. Darn. My only regret with this recipe is that I only made one batch of salsa verde and froze it. Never again – much more will be made this summer! This recipe is the sole reason I am going to try growing tomatillos again this year.
Pork Chile Verde
pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch chunks. I would approximate about 1/2 lb per person.
one serving chile verde (see below)
onions, garlic chopped in small pieces
cumin, salt and pepper to taste
one can green zebra tomatoes (optional)
First, brown the pork in a heavy-bottomed pot – I used a dutch oven. I had to do it in many batches so that the pork would actually brown instead of just sautee.
Next, thaw the chile verde base. I made this in the summer. Essentially, wash and peel/clean tomatillos, onions, garlic and chile peppers of your choice. If you are not a fan of spice, you can use green bell peppers, but it wont be the same. I used poblano chiles from my farmer’s market. I roasted them in a 400° oven with olive oil and salt for about 45 minutes – until the veggies take on some color. Once combined, I mixed them in a food processor until it took on small chunks. I then put it in a quart size freezer bag and froze for later use. To thaw it, submerge it in a pot of cool water when you start. It should be ready to go once the pork is browned.
At this point, I like to add some fresh veg too. I add some fresh onions and garlic into the bottom of the same pan I browned the pork. I then add some cumin for a little earthiness. It really brings out the flavors in the verde base. At this point, I also added a small can of green zebra tomatoes (also preserved this summer). The juice from the tomatoes helped to deglaze the pan, and balance out the strong-flavored sauce. If you dont have them, dont worry about it.
The rest is really simple. Add the base to the aromatics, add pork in and cook over a low temperature until the sauce turns from a bright green to a green-brown. You can do this in the oven or on the stove.
1. Serve in burritos. Enough said.
2. We served them with homemade refried beans/refritos and tortillas. Goes great with a strong lime margarita! But really, when its blizzarding outside, what DOESN’T go great with a strong margarita?
3. You can really adapt this method to any kind of stewed pork. I am going to try a version of carnitas this way, in a red sauce. I bet it would transition well to a mole sauce or really any strong flavored stew base.