One of my favorite things in the whole world is Green Chili. But not just any ol’ green Chili. I’m talkin’ Green Chili like they make in Denver or pretty much all over Colorado, especially along the front range, and sometimes in Northern New Mexico and out across the prairie to Nebraska. In Colorado, it’s usually called Pork Green Chili, but on my site, I’m adding in Colorado to the name, Colorado Pork Green Chili.
If you’re in Colorado, you wouldn’t call it “Colorado Pork Green Chili” of course, but If you’re a food blogger and trying to differentiate between Green Chili as it’s made in Colorado as opposed to some other region, well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
About Colorado Pork Green Chili:
I’ve eaten Green Chili all up and down the Colorado front range, and in every corner of the state, every time I’ve seen it on a menu. I’m just a sucker for it. I’ve had it in truck stops, dives, bars, cafes, and of course in just about every Mexican restaurant in Denver and in any town I’ve stopped in.
The first item I order any place it’s on a menu is a Green Chili Plate (Green Chili, usually in a shallow bowl, that comes with refried beans on one side and tortillas to scoop it up with) and if that’s not available anything smothered in Green Chili! The only places I hesitate to order Green Chili? Fancy restaurants…
Food (and recipes) are like a living thing, always morphing and changing, but the Green Chili I know and fell in love with when I lived in Colorado comes in basically two particular styles. Every cook, every restaurant, and pretty much every area is going to have its own special touches, but both my recipes are super classic.
- The Denver Green Chili already on my site is a truly green Green Chili, a little fiery with an old-school home cooking method. Basically, pork shoulder is simmered away with a few spices and so on, then the roux and broth are added. Once that’s incorporated, in goes the green chiles (and a few of my special touches) and everything is simmered to perfection.
- This recipe for Colorado Pork Green Chili is more like a restaurant version. This type of Green Chili usually has a little tomato, and depending on where you eat it, might vary from a little pinkish to reddish in color all the way up to orange! The pork is cut in chunks and browned up, then the rest of the ingredients go in. Again, simmer to perfection!
Both this recipe and my Denver Green Chili are fabulous and share many of the same ingredients. One of the main differences? This one has tomatoes. What you won’t find in either of my Denver or Colorado Pork Green Chili recipes are tomatillos or potatoes, both additions more commonly seen outside of Colorado, or anything trendy, fancy, or “cheffy.” What you will find is killer home cooking!
If you’d like to read more about Colorado/Denver Green Chili, check out Denver Green Chili, Your Guide to everything Green Chile.
Getting Your Green Chiles:
First of all, you’ve got to get your green chiles. The preferred is the Pueblo Green Chile (the link takes you to the Pueblo Chile Growers Association & I’ve used their photo of Pueblo Green Chiles) or the Mira Sol (depending on the area of Colorado) which is an “improved” New Mexico Chile. This recipe is also going to be fine with New Mexico, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles if you need to go there.
- If you live in an area where green chiles are grown, you can pick them up roasted from a street vendor or stand and some grocery stores when in season. If you love green chili, you might want to plan ahead, buy extra and freeze your own.
- You may also be able to pick up roasted, skinned, seeded and diced chilis ready to toss right into your Green Chili.
- You can buy green chiles fresh in the stores when in season; even in Minnesota, in the last year or two, we could buy Hatch green chiles and I’ve picked them up in the Atlanta area, too. In this case, you’ll need to roast your own.
- Green Chiles, already roasted can be purchased frozen and shipped these days from many vendors in many areas. Needless to say, this is a little pricey.
- If there are no other options, use jarred or canned. I’ve trialed several varieties of jarred green chilis in the past few years. Sometimes Costco has them and I picked up a “jug” recently at the grocer. That particular one had just a hint of the lime used to preserve but it wasn’t noticeable in the final green chili.
I may take some “heat” from some of my suggestions! Peeps are passionate about their Green Chili, no matter where they’re from, and can be really particular about the green chiles that go in it. There is especially a big debate between Colorado & New Mexico, and whether New Mexico Chiles grown in Hatch are better than Pueblo chiles grown in Pueblo (north of Denver, in Thornton and Brighton there are great chiles grown, too.)
Just know your Colorado Pork Green Chili is going to great no matter what you use! If you sub you might lose a bit of the so-called “authenticity” but honestly, even in Colorado, you might not know exactly what green chile you’re getting from the vendor!
Subbing out the Green Chiles:
There’s always gonna be a bit of guesswork when using different types of Chiles. Different varieties are going to come in different shapes, sizes, and vary in the amount of “fleshiness” and even peppers of the same variety are gonna vary in size.
The exact amount of Green Chiles for the recipe can depend on taste so you can add more or less; I like about two cups of diced green chile in this recipe and I usually decide as I make it. It’s a judgment call!
The two cups of diced Green Chile is 16 ounces if you need to figure for jarred or canned. If buying fresh or roasted, six or seven chilis will make about a pound before roasting (you can weigh them if they are fresh, roasted lose some weight due to the juices that come out) and you can expect each chili to be slightly less than 1/2 an ounce once skinned and deseeded. So a pound of chilis will be about 6 ounces prepared. A pound and a quarter will be about a cup (8 ounces) prepared.
I don’t like to run short, but I don’t sweat buying and roasting and having extra green chile prepared and ready to go as long as I’m doing it – I just toss it in a bag in my freezer and pull it out whenever I make a recipe that needs green chiles.
Making Colorado Pork Green Chili:
There are different ways of making your Green Chili. I like to use pork shoulder I’ve cut myself, others use packages of pork stew meat or other cuts of pork. I cut the pork in about 3/4 inch cubes then toss it in the flour and saute it in whatever lard, fat, or grease I have on hand until it’s gently browned. You do want to see some browning but get it too brown and the pork will seize up and take longer to soften up as it simmers!
Next, the onions go in, then the garlic once the onions have softened. Watch your pan and don’t let things get too dark! You’ll then whisk in the broth, then the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until the pork is tender and the chili is as thick as you like it – the pork should hold its shape but be tender enough to “squish” if pressed against the pan with a spoon and the thickness should be almost like a gravy, not too thick.
As for the tomatoes, I like “petite diced” but stick with a good brand so they won’t be overly hard and stay so absolutely distinct. They should just about melt into the green chili. I sometimes use crushed and many people like the more orangy color they give, but again, use a decent brand. Some crushed tomatoes are so finely pulverized that you’d be basically tossing in all liquid.
The jalapenos are roasted, skinned, and seeded. I always do a bunch at a time and keep them in small packages in the freezer, ready to go. I like one or two for this amount of Green Chili. That depends on how hot your Green Chiles are. A little heat is good for me, some want it as hot as they can stand. You can always add more, right, especially if you make a few extra and have them on hand. After the pork is cooked through, but before it’s cooked so long it’s almost finished, you do have a chance to taste and adjust for heat.
Saving Money on Colorado Pork Green Chili:
Buying meat from the shoulder is usually going to cheaper (and better) than buying any packages of precut pork meat. You might want to see my post on Buying a Large Pork Roast. I usually try to have a couple in my freezer bought on deep sale. If I’m making my Colorado Pork Green Chili I’ll trim enough off the end and use the rest for something else. In our area, we sometimes find pork shoulder for 89 cents a pound (or lower) on a deep sale, while it can run anywhere from $2.99 and up to $4.49 a pound at regular price!
It’s cheaper to buy fresh chiles in season than to buy canned or jarred. There’s no doubt there is work involved, especially if you roast your own. Two and a half pounds for this recipe ran about $2.50. An equivalent of canned in standard 4 ounce cans, on deep sale (89 cents each) would be $3.56 and at regular price ($1.49 each) would be $5.96.
Tomatoes of course are a pantry staple. Pick them up on sale – they’ll usually be on a deep sale about once a quarter. And if you like to use canned green chilis (I always have them on hand) shop around Cinco de Mayo and watch for sales in the fall when the harvest is in and the supply is high.Print
colorado pork green chili
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Total Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
- Yield: about 2 quarts (8 cups) 1x
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) lard, oil, or bacon grease
- 1 1/4 pounds pork shoulder 1/2″ dice
- 1/4 cup of flour (heaping)
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 good-sized cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups water or broth
- 1 (15 ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 to 2 1/4 cups roasted, skinned, deseeded & diced green chiles
- 2 to 4 jalapenos, roasted, skinned, deseeded & diced
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Preparing the Green Chiles & Jalapenos:
Preheat broiler and set oven rack about five inches under. Lay the chiles and jalapenos out, touching each other, on an aluminum foil-lined sheet tray in a configuration that matches your broiling element. Watching closely, let chiles blister (some browning is ok, but try not to burn), turning each as needed until all sides are finished. Remove any that are done earlier than the rest first. The chiles and jalapenos can also be grilled, but give them space.
Either place in a bowl large enough to hold and cover with a plate or wrap in the aluminum foil used for roasting and allow to steam several minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin, the stem and open the chiles, and remove the majority of the seeds. Dice into small pieces.
For the Green Chili:
In the meantime, heat the lard, oil, or grease in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss the pork with the flour and working in batches if necessary, add in a single layer to the hot pan. Cook until the pork is golden brown all over, about 15 minutes, stirring as needed. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring as needed. Watch the bottom of the pan and if it is getting too dark, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the broth in additions, stirring constantly to blend the broth in with the flour. Add remaining ingredients, the tomatoes and juice, green chiles, jalapenos, salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne, bring to a boil, and then adjust pot to a simmer. Taste and adjust for heat or any seasonings after the chili has cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. Continue to simmer until the pork is tender and the green chili is at desired consistency, an hour to an hour and a half, stirring now and then.
Keywords: canned tomatoes, Colorado Green Chili, Family Recipe, Green Chili, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, Mexican or Southwestern, Pork, Pork Shoulder Recipe, Tomatoes
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