I’m a bit at a loss as to how to describe this dish; tender chunks of braised pork in a slightly spicy, slightly smoky green tomatillo sauce is descriptive, but somehow doesn’t quite give justice. Guisado de Puerco con Tomatillos or Carne de Puerco en Salsa Verde rolls off the tongue with a bit more flair.
Here in the states, we’re more likely to know this dish as Green Chile, Chile Verde or perhaps Pork Green Chile Stew: Puerco con Chile Verde. No matter how it’s called, done right, this is world-class cuisine, hailing from the Michoacan area of Mexico.
Watch below as Abuelita Guadalupe Campos prepares Carne de Puerco en Salsa Verde estilo Michoacan. (Roughly, Pork Meat in Green Sauce in the Michoacan Style.) She uses the same techniques as in my recipe – or I should say, I use the same time-honored techniques as she shows us here! Gracias, Senora Campos.
Sometimes there are a few other ingredients, in this stew, namely potatoes. Often there’s lime, usually in the States, but orange is used, too, and I tried the recipe this time, inspired by Artemio Espino of Espino’s Mexican Bar & Grill in Chesterfield, Missouri, with lemon.
Artemio Espino was featured on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives (on Netflix, now) episode Turn on Traditional. It looked so good, I had see if there was a recipe and there was, but it wasn’t the same. It was a slow cooker recipe with different ingredients.
So I reworked it from the episode, and here’s my take. You’ll notice that the Puerco con Chile Verde is lighter colored than mine. I browned the pork up more, building up more flavor. I also subbed grated zest for the lemon pepper. I always have grated lemon zest in the freezer and pepper, so why buy?
If you want to be more exact, don’t brown the meat this much and you’ll have a dish just a bit greener in color. Just a note, this dish has a good bit of heat but is not over the top. If serving children or anxious about the amount, feel free to cut back on the amounts or remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers.
With all the lovely sauce, these tacos need nothing more than a bit of cilantro and perhaps a touch of Queso Fresco, Sour Cream or Crema. Reheating hint: dishes like this will firm up with refrigeration and quickly heating isn’t the best way to go without risking tough meat. If using the microwave, try the defrost setting. On the stovetop, heat gently with a touch of water.
Puerco con Chile Verde
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 pounds pork butt, cubed 2″ to 2 1/2″ pieces, heavy fat removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or grated zest of one lemon & plus additional 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 small cans green chiles, minced (or two poblanos, roasted, skin and seeds removed and diced)
- 3 cups Salsa Verde, recipe follows
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large skillet, add oil, then garlic and cook a minute. Quickly add pork butt, then add salt, black pepper, lemon pepper, oregano. Brown for several minutes, turning as necessary. Work in batches if needed – this stew is best if the pan isn’t crowded and a deep golden brown is achieved on all sides of the meat.
Watch the heat carefully, the liquid at the bottom should be looking almost syrupy when the meat is done, but do not allow to burn. (If you are replicating the restaurant version, simply brown lightly on the bottom for a few minutes.)
Add the Salsa Verde, cumin, green chiles and onions and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. Add the cilantro, stir in, cover tightly and cook for 1 1/2 hours at a bare simmer over low heat. Check 3/4’s of the way through and add a little reserved liquid from making the Salsa Verde, if needed.
The recipe is done when the pork is fork tender, still holding together, but will break apart when gently pressed with a fork.
Garnish, if desired, with Cilantro.
- 12 tomatillos, husks removed (1 pound)
- 4 cloves garlic, whole & peeled
- 2 Jalapeno
- 1 Serrano pepper (may use 4 jalapeno)
- 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped (1/2 in saucepan, 1/2 in blender)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add to the dry, hot pan, half of the onion, jalapenos, Serrano, garlic and then the tomatillos. Cook for several minutes, allowing to darken and blister in spots, stirring now and then.
Add water to cover, turn to a heavy simmer and cook until the tomatillos float to the top and are softened, but not to the point of bursting, about 20 minutes.
Strain and reserve liquid. Remove the stems from the peppers. Add tomatillo/pepper mixture to blender, along with the remaining onion, cilantro, white pepper and salt. Add about 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid and blend. Use caution when blending hot liquids; cover blender with a kitchen towel and press down hard. Do not add the lid until the instant you are ready to blend so steam does not build up.
Set aside a bit of the liquid in case it is needed during the braising of the pork.
To Toast Tortillas:
Turn burner on to medium high and allow to heat for a moment or two. Add tortilla and as soon as a few bubbles appear about an inch from the edge, turn and continue to cook for two or three more seconds.
The point is to heat through and soften not to “crisp.” Wrap in several layers of clean kitchen towel to keep warm, adding to the pile as each is done.
This works with any type of burner or a grill or toaster oven.
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Diners drive ins & dives
Pork Dish alone: Calories 329; Total Fat 23 g 35 %; Saturated Fat 6 g 32 %; Monounsaturated Fat 12 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 61 mg 20 %; Sodium 701 mg 29 %; Potassium 674 mg 19 %; Total Carbohydrate 13 g 4 %; Dietary Fiber 4 g 18 %; Sugars 5 g; Protein 18 g 36 %; Vitamin A 11 %; Vitamin C 26 %; Calcium 9 %; Iron 14 %
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every; page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
I have not had a chance to write up the total pricing strategies for this meal, but notice it was served twice – once as a main dish and left overs stretched in tacos the next day. I also pulled out the rest of the rice and beans. This strategy I call “divide and conquer” and I can cost average the main protein here over two meals. Obviously, more was served at the first meal, less for the second.
Pork was $1.79 on sale, $5.37, the rest of the ingredients picked up at Aldi. Onions 33 cents a pound, about 20 cents, jalapenos, 14 in pack, $1.19, I used four so about 34 cents. Tomatillos $1.29, garlic 20 cents, lemon I’ll use for another recipe, olive oil 24 cents, herbs I grow myself. Spices i don’t “count.” Total $6.68.
This is a fantastic meal to double or triple and freeze. Brown everything up in a large Dutch oven, in batches, then cover and cook at about 325 for about two hours.