It’s a hearty, comforting Mexican icon. Superb in tacos, burritos, over rice or even just in a damn bowl, Pork Chile Verde is a staple on both sides of the border. Thanks to one of Food & Wine’s Best of the Best cookbooks from years back, I stumbled upon a Rick Bayless version where chunks of pork shoulder are braised slowly in an oven along with tomatillos, cilantro and pickled jalapeños. Despite countless versions of Pork Chile Verde out there, I have yet to steer from this one. And my cookbook has the stains to prove it.
Here is how you make it.
One thing I’ll say about this recipe is that it is CHEAP. Pork shoulder, aka Boston Butt, even from the fancy butcher is pretty affordable. This is peasant food at it’s most flavorful.
To kick things off, take the husk of the tomatillos, rinse, quarter them and get ’em into your oven safe pot. Add half the chopped cilantro and those pickled jalapeños. You can take some of the seeds out if you must but do leave a little in. I’ve included sugar to taste at the end as way to balance out the heat. Lastly, sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over everything.
Next you will take your cut up pieces of pork shoulder and toss them in a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I just love watching people say that word. This is a genius step that skips the browning one usually does with braised meat dishes. You’re adding glutamates aka umami here. Well played, Chef Bayless.
Layer that pork over the tomatillos and company, get that lid on and stick it in a 300 degree preheated oven for 3 hours. The original recipe says 2.5-3 hours but I always go for 3.
Three hours later, you’re looking at that. Looks good enough to eat right? Almost. Time to make the sauce. First you are gonna carefully remove the pork(because it’s very tender) and set aside. Next you will ladle the tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro and any juices into a blender. And do be careful because its hot after being in an oven for 3 hours.
I like my sauce smooth so I let it rip though I suppose Pork Chile Verde would work with a thicker sauce consistency. Some recipes call for using an Immersion Blender which eliminates the need to ladle the sauce out of the pot but I find this causes messy and hot splatter. Regardless, once your sauce is blended, get it back in the pot.
Set a burner to low and get those Cannellini beans in there. Depending on how juicy the tomatillos were, you might want this to simmer for a bit. If you’re like me, you probably made even more pork than the recipe calls for, in which case just get the pork in there too.
Season with salt to taste if needed and same with some sugar if you want to tame down the heat. And that’s it. I have been making this Braised Pork Chile Verde for like 10 years and it has never failed me. It’s great for football games in the winter. It freezes and reheats great and yeah, it’s damn good in a taco.