Rich and savory New Mexico Chile Verde (Green Chili), a bold recipe for chili lovers!
Regional cuisine is a beautiful concept.
It’s all about cooking what’s grown in your own backyard. Although I’m not much of a gardener, I like to make the most of what’s growing in the area I live.
World wide, regional dishes are celebrated for their diversity and ingenuity. I believe that’s why America has become a melting pot, of not only cultures, but flavors. We want to taste what’s growing in everyone’s backyard.
This hasn’t occurred without consequence. American food culture has greatly benefited by this sort of exploration. Yet many would argue it is taking a toll on our environment, and has lessened the quality and execution of regional specialties.
Surely there is a happy-medium to be found.
More than any other state I can think of, New Mexico has fully embraced the concept of celebrating regional cuisine.
New Mexicans are proud of their agriculture and the history behind their dishes. Their kitchen creations scream adaptability and survival. In blazing arid climates, what can you grow?
So for generations, locals have chosen to honor them with great exuberance. The state question after all is, “Red or green?” As in, “Do you prefer to eat red or green chile?” Chiles are not just produce, they are a way of life.
New Mexico Chile Verde, also know as Green Chili and Green Chile Stew, is a dish I discovered years ago on a cross-country trip. A native New Mexican friend made it for me and I was baffled by the concept of chili that wasn’t red… And didn’t contain tomatoes, beans, or beef.
What was this strange and wonderful concoction!?
New Mexico Chile Verde (Green Chili) is known for not having an official recipe. It consists of slow cooked green chiles and pork; all other ingredients are optional.
Locals would avidly tell you that the chile peppers you use matter quite a bit. The long green “New Mexican” style chiles are a state treasure.
What I buy at the market in North Carolina would only be considered a shadow of real New Mexican chiles. They say the dry barren soil of New Mexico produces the hottest and most flavorful chiles. Known commonly as Hatch Chiles (grown in Hatch) or Big Jims, these chiles are a source of great pride.
I asked my friend what kind of chiles I should use to make New Mexico Chile Verde (Green Chili). She answered, “Green.” Looking over the selection in the market I asked, “What kind of green chiles?” With a tinge of exasperation she replied, “GREEN!”
Like I said, in New Mexico, it’s green or red.
So trying to be the happy-medium, I’ve prepared my version of New Mexico Chile Verde (Green Chili) with locally grown green chiles. I substituted a mixture of Anaheims (a milder New Mexican style chile), Poblanos for depth of flavor, and a couple Jalapeños for heat.
The addition of stewed tomatillos, cilantro, and a splash of lime juice at the end make for an exciting bowl.
It’s spicy, zesty, and GREEN in more ways than one!
New Mexico Chile Verde (Green Chili)
- 1/4 cup oil
- 4 pounds pork butt, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Anaheim peppers, chopped
- 2 Poblano peppers, chopped
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 pound tomatillos (peeled and cleaned), chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch cilantro (large), chopped
- 3 tablespoons masa (corn flour)
- 4 cups water or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon salt, divided
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 2 teaspoons of salt. Brown the pork on all sides, stirring regularly. Remove the pork from the pot and pour out all rendered fat, saving about 1 tablespoon.
- Add the onions, remaining salt, cumin, coriander, and oregano to the pot. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and peppers. Sauté another 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatillos, bay leaves, and cilantro. Toss the pork with the masa and add back to the pot. Stir well.
- Finally add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the pork is falling apart, stirring occasionally.
Take 2 forks and break the pork up even more. Salt and pepper to taste.