Vat foods usually aren’t terribly exciting to cook, but this one was interesting and photogenic. I’ve usually heard of this kind of chili associated with New Mexico, although I’m sure there are other regional variations. It is a favorite because it avoids my rather nasty intolerance to tomatoes (Fun fact: tomatillos and tomatoes are both nightshades, but they aren’t actually very closely related), but I’d never actually made it myself. I wanted some the other day, browsed a variety of uninspiring recipes online, became satisfied that I knew basically how things should work, and decided to head to the store and wing it from there.
I came home with:
6 good-sized poblano peppers
1 green bell pepper
4 Kroger-crapshoot jalapenos
8 smallish (and frankly kind of mediocre looking) tomatillos
2-2.5 pounds of pork (or at least that much cut off a larger piece)
I already had:
2 smallish yellow onions
2-3 Tablespoons of minced garlic
3-4 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro
A couple teaspoons of salt
Several turns of black pepper
2+ Tablespoons of oregano
A teaspoon or so of cumin
A dash of celery seed, which is kind of out of place but appealed.
2+ Tablespoons of white flour
2-ish Tablespoons of cooking fat (Light flavored vegetable oil, or whatever)
Be aware that none of the amounts are the slightest bit precise because I don’t tend to measure in the kitchen.
The first step is to roast the peppers, for flavor and texture. I just do this by turning on a gas burner, plopping a couple of the peppers on the pot support, and turning them occasionally until the desired level of char is reached. I usually pull them off when they are uniformly blistered, one of the housemates blackens then peels. This is one of the roughly 1E7 reasons gas stoves are better than electric.
Then everything gets reduced to a coarse chop. I find doing that kind of cutting incredibly meditative (Focus on the structure of what you are cutting, and the appropriate knife and technique. I’ve been cooking that way for as long as I can remember, and it is wonderful.) I’ve seen variations that puree the roasted peppers, but it really doesn’t seem necessary; between breaking up the skin with the charring and chopping, and the extent to which they are cooked down by the time it is done, the peppers are paste anyway.
Stick a large pot over high heat with some oil, and cook the pork until beginning to brown with salt and pepper. I’ll disclaim that it would be better to do in batches that just cover the bottom of the pot for better browning, but I’m always too lazy to do that. Then add the chopped onion and a couple tablespoons of chopped garlic (unless you’re an idiot like I was, in which case catch up the garlic in another pan later and add it…), let it start to clarify, then pour in the peppers. Add a little liquid (I just used water, some kind of stock would be better), reduce to a simmer, and let it cook down for about two hours, stirring occasionally. The pre/post simmer difference is pretty intense, as illustrated below.
Right at the end of cooking, add several tablespoons of flour/water slurry until the reaches the desired consistency, then give it a minute to cook in to avoid flour flavor.
The first serving was over rice, but this will also be delicious with tortillas and sour cream.