I first had chile verde at The Loop in Manitou Springs, Colorado. We have visited this little artsy town just outside of Colorado Springs many times over the years, and we will usually have dinner at The Loop at least one night each trip. I had never heard of chile verde before stepping foot in that restaurant, and now forever after this dish is connected in my mind with the sights and sounds of winter in southern Colorado.
When I decided I would try to do it at home, I did what I am sure most of us would do. Google it! This raises an interesting question: Is there really such a thing as an original recipe? I would argue that every recipe is passed down or passed along in some way or form, then modified and altered by whomever is stirring the pot. It’s that challenging balance between getting a dish right–recognizable to the eye, nose, and tongue as the thing you’re after–and making a dish your own. Hopefully, if you are trying out these dishes, you are playing with them as you go.
So, back to chile verde. What I discovered poking around online was that there seem to be two clear camps: the “chile only” variety and the tomatillo versions. From my memory, The Loop serves up a tomatillo version, so I went in that direction. There also seemed to be some raging debate over which chiles to use–green chiles being cited by some as the only proper choice (and given the preferences of southwestern cuisine understandably so), while others favored jalapenos. I chose to use a poblano instead, mostly to keep the heat to a minimum, while still maintaining a bit of a bite tucked away in the background.
And here’s the version I threw together:
3 lb pork loin
dredging flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
3-4 tablespoons of oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb tomatillos, quartered
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Heat your oil in a stainless steel pan. Cube your pork into large, yet still fork-size pieces. Dredge in your seasoned flour and brown your pork in small batches. Set aside your pork. Add the chopped onion and salt to the hot pan and cook the onions until they start to brown. Add in the chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.
Transfer the pork, the onion/garlic/wine deglaze and the rest of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Prior to serving, give the dish a good stir–the tomatillos will fall apart when you do this. Some recipes call for blended tomatillos but why dirty another piece of hardware when you don’t need to, right?
Adjust your salt and serve with warmed corn torillas as your starch.
This is another great winter meal–especially if you are eating it in Manitou with a snow-topped Pikes Peak off in the distance. It ended up tasting pretty close to how I remember this dish, and since that’s what I was after, I couldn’t have been more pleased.
And if you make this dish, please let me know how you modify it to make it your own!