Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chili Verde Redeux

I am not a big fan of crock pots. I liken meals prepared in them to looking at modern art.

“What do you THINK it’s supposed to be?” or “What does it TASTE LIKE?” are usually the questions surrounding meals coming from a crock pot, ‘cause good lord, unless it’s soup or stew, they sure don’t LOOK like anything familiar.

Last week I ended up with a mix for 10 Bean Soup so I used the crock pot. And the soup was great (because I added hog jowls in place of ham) … until I put in the seasoning packet. Then it just tasted like salt. While I was doing some research on how to modify the 10 Bean Soup recipe for the crock pot I ran across a recipe for Chili Verde.

It sounded easy – and good – so I bought the ingredients. I thought I might get it started one morning before going to work – but honestly. Chopping and browning and dicing just aren’t my thing early in the morning.

Today before I left the home to pick up my CSA box, I started the chili. When I got home, I couldn’t believe how good the house smelled. I was halfway afraid it might smell of burnt Chili Verde since I hadn’t added any liquid to the Crockpot.

When I began cooking I assumed the recipe had chicken stock/broth in it, but it only called for a ½ cup of beer. I had no beer. I almost dumped in some white wine – but didn’t. I decided there was enough moisture in the pork, onions, and chilis to keep it safe until I returned home to add the beer. I was right. Of course, on a weekday I’ll have to add the beer upfront.

I like this recipe for two reasons; one because it was more “stew like” and thick. And two; I didn’t have to roast anything, unlike this recipe … from two years ago. (Guess it just goes to show that I don’t cook the same things over and over again, because I completely forgot about making this!)

The most time consuming part of today’s recipe was dicing up the pork. I didn’t see any diced pork at the store so I used a small pork sirloin tip roast. At 2.25 lbs and $5.56 it was just right for my purposes, and much cheaper than tenderloin and smaller than a pork butt.

As I was getting ready to write about Chili Verde, thought I’d do some research to see if it is a regional dish. I didn’t run into it very often in Arizona, but when I moved back to the San Joaquin Valley, each hole in the wall place was judged on the strength its green chili. Of course, Hatch, New Mexico is famous for green and red chiles. This summer when I was in Santa Fe, I ate my weight in Chili Verde. I couldn’t find anything to substantiate my theory, but I’m willing to bet Chili Verde is more Sonoran, than Chihuahuan, Coahuilan, or Nuevo Leónian in nature.

Crock Pot Chile Verde

Credit Clark Quinn (1990)

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • olive oil

  • 1 small can diced green chiles (or one fresh Poblanos)

  • 1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional)

  • 7 to 8 fresh tomatillos, husks removed, coarsely chopped

  • 1-2 lbs lean pork, trimmed of fat and cut in cubes

  • 2 tsp oregano

  • 2 tsp dried sage

  • 1 tsp dried red chile pepper flakes

  • 1 tsp cumin seed

  • salt and ground black pepper (optional, to taste)

  • 1/2 cup beer (Negro Modelo or Bohiema preferably)

Heat olive oil at a medium heat in a 12-inch cast iron frying pan. Sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic until translucent.

Put mixture in the Crockpot along with canned diced green chiles (or the diced Poblano chili).

Depending on your propensity for spicy food you can add one to three sliced jalapenos too.

Add diced tomatillos.

Reheat cast iron pan to medium high. Place small batches of cubed pork in the left over oil used to sauté the onions and peppers. Brown meat till caramelized, a maximum of 2-3 minutes on each side.

If you put too much meat in the pan at one time, it will steam and not caramelize. Don’t stir the meat until in it browns and naturally releases from the pan. (You won’t need to use much oil if you can master this skill). My meat was lean enough there was very little juice or fat so the fondt built up nicely as I cooked each batch.

Deglaze skillet with the beer after removing last batch of meat. (When I got home, I warmed up the skilled and deglazed it so I didn’t lose the flavor on the fondt. (Fondt = the meat crumbles and brown stuff left by meat when sautéing)

Season mixture in the Crockpot with the oregano, dried red chile pepper flakes, sage, and ground cumin. Mix.

Add 1/2 cup of beer & fondt to Crockpot.

Cook on high for 2 hours, and then turn to low. It will be ready after the two hours – but becomes better the longer you let it cook. 8-10 hours is perfect.

Traditionally, this is served in bowls, with hot corn or flour tortillas, salsa, and cilantro. You can also garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, olives, and pickled carrots and jalapenos. I like crumbling Fresco or Cotija cheese in mine.

To make great burritos use a carnitas technique with the meat.

After cooking meat in the Crockpot, remove to a baking dish. Place in oven under broiler. Broil until meat is slightly crunchy on the outside, but still moist on the inside. This adds a great texture to the meat, and keeps the burritos from being too soggy.


Anonymous said...

Holy mother of crap...that sounds AWESOME!! You are the queen foodie of the universe!!

*bowing before you*



Joe said...

I've seen a chunky pork chili recipe like that before called Navajo Green, but it looked so spicy that I never had the nerve even to try it modified.

One non-stew thing I used to cook a lot in a slow cooker was corned beef brisket. I also used it for a fake Eastern-NC-style pork barbecue.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mr. Goodenough will try this recipe as soon as he gets over his cold - sounds delicious ! tp