Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chili Verde II

Found a damn good recipe for Chili Verde and one that is pretty easy!  What I really love is how easy it is, especially compared to the other recipes I've tried.  Seriously easy!  I was roasting tomatillos, jalapenos, and other peppers for the base of the green sauce.  Between the prep work and the cooking time, it was pretty much an entire afternoon.  While I liked the result, I tried a number of different things and was kinda iffy on the whole thing.

In my search I serendipitously came across a jarred Salsa Verde (yes, a jarred salsa) that I really liked. Frontera Tomatillo Salsa, it was developed by Rick Bayless -- and anyone who watches way to much food TV knows he's one of the best chefs cooking Mexican-style food and star of the long running TV series 'Mexico:  One Plate at a Time'.  While the salsa isn't as chunky as I like, its got a great taste.  I was wondering about using this in my Chili Verde when I ran across the recipe from the Dad Cooks Dinner blog.

I am a subscriber of Dad's blog and have gotten lots of useful tips, tricks, and recipes.  This one struck me for two reasons.  The first is it uses a pressure cooker, which cuts down on the cook time dramatically.  The second is that while he includes a great homemade Salsa Verde recipe, he also includes a cheater version using the same Frontera Salsa Verde that I recently discovered, along with some canned diced green chiles.  So both prep time and cook time cut down from an entire afternoon to about about an hour.  The longest item is cutting, trimming, and browning the pork.  I also added some fresh diced peppers and cilantro to up the flavor a bit more.  Once I discovered that my regular grocery store had canned Hatch Green Chilis, I was done!  So here is the recipe, hope you like it:


  • Canned Diced Green Chilis, about 24 oz.  I like Hatch Green Chili's.  They come in 4 oz cans here.  I also like Ortega Fire-Roasted Diced Green Chilis, but prefer the Hatch even though they are not roasted
  • 4 Jalapeno chilis, medium dice (if you go much smaller they pretty well melt away, and I am after the bit of texture you get as well as the flavor
  • 4 Anaheim chilis, medium dice as well
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro (leaves and stem), separated into two piles, half of it chopped (for cooking) and the other half simply roughly chopped for garnishing
  • 16 ounce jar tomatillo salsa or salsa verde, like stated earlier, I like Frontera.  I they also won the taste test on America's Test Kitchen.  If you are going to use jarred salsa, make sure it's one you like to eat, there are a few really awful ones out there.  If you want to go the whole, fresh salsa route, click on the link from Dad's above and check it out.
  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes trim off most of the visible fat and hold onto the bone.  I like adding the bone during cooking,  I have tried cooking the shoulder whole and then shredding it, but not in a pressure cooker. 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (for the meat)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for the onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon roasted ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon roasted ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
Now the fun part.
  • Mix the salsa ingredients and let sit, remember only use half the cilantro, the chopped cilantro
  • If the pork isn't already cut, it's time.  I usually cut and season the meat with salt as I go.  Once I have enough cut to start browning, I get that going as well.  Dad Cook's recipe called for 1 1/2 inch cubes.  I usually go a little smaller, but no larger than 1 1/2 inches.  If you go too small, or a mix of larger and smaller, they might cook uneven.  Remember the meat will shrink during cooking, but if you go much larger than 1 1/2 inch cubes, you may have to cut the meat as you eat.
  • Brown one side of the meat in batches small enough to avoid crowding the pan.  This is one of the tricks I saw on Dad Cooks Dinner.  Browning one side give you the brown-bits on the pan you want for flavor, without having to spend tons of time browning all sides.  It takes about 4 minutes a batch and you have less chance overcooking the pork.  Browning all sides takes forever, and while you do get lots of fond (french for 'brown bits'), you also run the chance of over cooking.  Think about it, a 1 inch cube has 6 sides, that's 24 minutes of cooking!  If you only do two sides, you get fond, but you really don't add enough to change the flavor profile you get from one side. The other consideration is trim off the visible fat!  Since we are only browning the meat on one side, that means there is a lot of fat that might not get rendered, so if you don't trim it carefully.
  • Remove the meat to a bowl.
  • Empty all the fat and return 1 Tbs back to the pot.  If you leave all the rendered pork fat in there, your chili will look and taste greasy!
  • Put the diced onion and peppers in the pot and season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Cook until softened.  Using a large wooden spoon or spatula to move them around and also scrape up - deglaze for those who like fancy  terms - those delicious brown bits left over from the meat.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Clear the center of the pot and put in the spices (garlic, cumin, coriander, and oregano).  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Do not burn your spices, you will regret it!
  • Add a little stock or water and scrape the bottom of the pot one more time, make sure the pot is deglazed, then add the rest of the stock/water and the salsa.
  • Return the meat, along with any juices, to the pot and close the pressure cooker and cook for 25 minutes for a stove top cooker or 30 for an electric.  Which sure beats the 2 1/2 to 3 hours in a dutch oven or the 10 hours in a slow-cooker!
  • Let the pressure release naturally, and check the seasonings.  You might need a little pepper, but the canned salsa verde is usually salty enough.  Bottom line, if it tastes flat, it needs salt.
Serve with the lime juice, fresh chopped cilantro, and maybe some sour cream.  I have also served this over rice, which worked out perfectly.

Does the version using all fresh ingredients taste better?  You know, for me it's a toss up.  The two taste different, but I can't place one over the other.  So since the two are about at the same level for me, I'll stick with the quicker version for now.

I plan on playing a little with some of the ingredients.  For example I wonder how beer will work instead of the stock, or upping the liquid content and cooking the rice in the chili.  On second thought, 25 minutes in a pressure cooker might be too much for the rice.  Anyone ever try rice in a  pressure cooker?  Well in any event, be sure and have some fun with it.  Thanks again to Mike Vrobel and his Dad Cooks Dinner Blog.

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