Prize-Winning Chile Verde

Verde Vidi Vici! Amid a highly competitive field of entries, my prophetically titled chile verde took top honors this past weekend at the second annual Chili Cook-Off fundraiser for MS. I promised to post the recipe if I won, so here it is – secrets and all. (Guess I’ll have to come up with a new chili recipe and bad pun title for next year.) 

One of my secrets for prize-winning chile verde is freshly roasted poblano chiles – a green and relatively mild type of chile that still delivers a nice amount of heat as well as flavor.  You can make this recipe without them, but the chile verde won’t have the same zing. I usually roast a whole grill-full of chiles at one time, and then freeze the extra in little packets for future use. Another secret for my chile verde: jarred (gasp!) green salsa; I use Xochitl brand, which is made from tomatillos, onions and jalapenos. If you’re morally opposed to using shortcuts such as this, go ahead and make your own roasted tomatillo salsa. (But I bet you won’t taste the difference in the end.)  Finally, for this winning recipe I used pork tenderloin – which I know some people will find crazy since pork tenderloin is pricier and leaner than the pork roasts typically used for slow cooking. Allow me to defend (or at least explain) myself: a) I found a 4-pound value pack at Costco, and b) I simply prefer the lean, uniform taste and texture of pork tenderloin. (I make this recipe with turkey breast as well.) So call me crazy if you want, but now I have a trophy so I can’t be that far off my rocker.

Some chili tasters at the cook-off may have been swayed (as was the plan) by my dish-enhancing garnishes: diced avocado, homemade corn tortilla crisps, and a drizzle of my no-longer-secret cilantro lime sauce. (I featured the cilantro sauce recipe in my Almost Famous Turkey Burgers post, but have reprinted it here below.) The avocado and cilantro sauce lend cooling, fresh notes to the spicy, slow-cooked chile verde, and the tortilla crisps provide textural contrast (something I’m always striving for). If you don’t feel like making homemade tortilla crisps, a handful of crushed tortilla chips would deliver similar results.

Roasted Poblano Chile Verde                         Click Here for Recipe Only

  • 3* poblano chiles, roasted, skinned/seeded and chopped (see below) [*double this amount to make a freezer stash]
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 lbs pork tenderloin, pork loin or turkey breast, trimmed and cut into 1½” cubes
  • 2 large yellow or white onions, finely chopped (approx. 3 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 jars (15 oz. each) salsa verde (Xochitl brand, preferably)
  • 1 box (14 oz.) chicken stock
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 squeeze (approx. ½ teaspoon) agave nectar or honey
  • Kosher salt

Roast the Poblanos

Heat a gas grill to medium-high. Place the whole chiles directly on the grill grates and close the lid.

After 5 minutes, check the chiles; if they are nicely charred on the bottom, turn them over using tongs.  Check again after a few more minutes. Repeat until chiles are charred on most sides; then remove from grill and set them on baking sheet or large plate. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool. [Note: you can also char the chiles on a baking sheet under a broiler.]

When chiles are cool, slip off the burnt skins (wearing gloves if you have sensitive skin), then pull off the stem tops and seeds. (Use a spoon to scrape off seeds, or give the chiles a quick rinse under cold water.) Be careful not to touch your eyes during this process! Slice the chiles into strips and then chop into pieces.

Prepare the Chile Verde

Trim most of the fat and silver skin from the meat and cut into approx. 1½” cubes.

Heat oven to 325ºF or set out slow-cooker/crock pot. Place a very large, heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon (a splash) of olive oil to the pan. Working in batches to prevent pan overcrowding, add the meat to the hot oil and let sear for 5 minutes. Resist the urge to stir; the meat will release from the pan when it’s nicely browned and ready to turn.

When at least 2 sides of the meat cubes have browned, remove from pan and repeat with the next batch of meat (adding more olive oil as necessary). The meat cubes will not be all the way cooked. To keep dirty dishes to a minimum, you can place the browned meat back on the same platter/baking sheet with the uncooked meat cubes since it’s all going back into the pot anyway.

Once all the meat has been browned and removed from the pot, add the diced onions and sauté a few minutes until softened, adding another splash of olive oil if necessary. Note that in this batch I got lazy and just added the onions to the pot with the meat. Since the chile verde cooked for so long in the oven, it didn’t matter in the end. Sautéing first is safer, though; the texture of not fully cooked onions would detract from the dish. Then add the browned pork and any accumulated juices back to the pot.

Add the garlic and cumin and sauté another minute. Add oregano, salsa verde, chicken stock, bouillon cube and chopped poblanos.

Cover pot and bake in oven at 325ºF for 3+ hours (or place in crock pot and set on low for 8 hours or high for 3-4 hours), until sauce has thickened and meat is falling-apart tender. (It should flake apart with a fork.)

Stir and then taste for seasoning; add a small squeeze of agave nectar or honey (this helps round out the flavors), and then a few pinches of kosher salt only if necessary. If mixture seems dry or overly salty, add a cup of chicken stock or water. 

Serve in bowls with desired garnishes. (Shown here with corn tortilla crisps, diced avocado and a drizzle of my Cilantro Lime sauce.) Can also be served over rice or with warmed tortillas.

Serves 8-10

Corn Tortilla Crisps

  • 1 package white corn tortillas, cut into ¼” slivers
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt

Cut tortillas into ¼” slivers.

Set a large tray or baking sheet covered with paper towels next to the stove. In a large cast iron pan or Dutch oven, pour in approx. ½” – 1” vegetable oil. Heat on medium high until shimmering. Fry tortilla slivers in batches, about a handful at a time. Using a strainer or tongs, stir the tortilla slivers around a little until they are golden brown. (You don’t need to turn them.) Remove slivers from oil and let drain on paper towel tray. Sprinkle with kosher salt while still hot. Repeat with the next batch until all strips are fried. Store in an airtight bag or container. Will keep for several days if you hide them from kids or other snackers.

Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 small bunch cilantro, washed & dried (roots and thick stems twisted off) (approx. 2 cups packed)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½  teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Few drops agave nectar or honey

Add all ingredients to food processor or beaker if using stick/immersion blender. Pulse and puree until smooth. (Add a little more olive oil to aid pureeing, if necessary.) Adjust seasoning to taste (i.e., another pinch of salt or drop of agave/honey) Refrigerate until ready to serve; will keep for several days.

See original recipe here for photos of steps. (Scroll down to end of post.)

You might also like:

Turkey & Roasted Poblano Empanadas


56 thoughts on “Prize-Winning Chile Verde

  1. Voila comme prevu recette essayee ce WE. Delicieux!! Et tres facile, le seul truc rate etait la sauce a la coriandre….trop de creme et pas assez de coriandre…mais parce que je n’ai pas respecte la recette! Merci Sue!!

  2. hi, sue! my name’s jo, i’m a friend of sara’s. good stuff right here, my family yummed it down like there was no tomorrow. you & i have very similar cooking styles, i think; when i had your sis & lovely nephews over for dinner the other week, there were peppers being roasted, things turned into tacos, all sorts of good stuff. (and there might have been some wine drunk. maybe just a titch.) anyway, just saying ‘ello & keep up the good work!

  3. Did you use the mild, medium, or hot Xo

    Click to open expanded view

    What heat level was the salsa you used ? I just purchased the medium online, They wanted 12$ more dollars more for a six pack of mild Xochitl.


  4. Won our annual chili cook off with your recipe – Many thanks! It’s is a new staple in many homes now. Appreciate you posting this!

  5. Just made your chili verde in my new Instant Pot and it was amazing. Used the sauté feature for all of the prep and then set the pot on meat/stew for 25 minutes. I did half the recipe as that was all the meat I had but used all the chilis, one jar of sauce, halved spices, onion and garlic. Also added tomatillos. Definitely will add more chilis next time but this was AMAZING!

  6. I made a double batch yesterday using hatch chiles instead of poblanos, otherwise didn’t change a thing. This recipe is the bomb! I can’t thank you enough for sharing this.

  7. I made this in my instant pot. High pressure for 30 minutes after browning the meat and cooking the onion and garlic. I also used the hatch green chiles. We loved it!!

  8. I will be making the Chile verde, tortilla strips, and cilantro salsa tomorrow 1/19/18). Thanks for sharing your winning recipe – can’t wait to put it all together. Will let you know how it all turns out!! ggs

  9. Just to let you know – your award-winning Chile Verde won another award here in Minneapolis, MN! Thanks for a truly amazing recipe!

  10. Okay, I have to admit, I was skeptical when I saw there was jarred salsa in the ingredients, couldn’t find it, so I ordered it through Amazon. Wasn’t wowed with the salsa with chips, so I just made a quarter batch of the chili so if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t waste too much money…BIG MISTAKE, the chili is to die for, my neighbors were commenting on the food I was cooking since it smells AH-MA-ZING!!! I am so impressed with this, thank you so much for this fabulous recipe!!! Also, I couldn’t find poblano peppers, ended up using pasilla, and it was a good substitute, in case you come across the same issue! THANKS AGAIN❤️

  11. I just read your Chili Verde recipe. It sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. Thank u for sharing and congratulations for 1st place!

    • Hi –
      You will not need to cook chicken breasts as long. They’ll be done much quicker (under an hour), but cooking on low for longer will just help the flavors meld (and ensure the onions are fully softened, etc.) Let me know how it turns out!

  12. LOVE a good “secret” recipe 😉
    Thanks for the good description and pictures of the roasting process for the peppers töö.

  13. Sue, are you the same Sue Bee on Pinterest? If so, my kitchen was modeled after yours with white cabinets and marble tops. I will have to send you a picture if it is you. I am trying the recipe today!! Can’t wait!

  14. This recipe looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it as it looks like it would work for keto lifestyle. Just want to clarify that you use pork tenderloin not pork loin?

  15. Coming from New Mexico, I grew up on this stuff,l so I know whereof I speak. This is almost perfect. Almost, you say! Trade the poblanos for Hatch Big Jims or one of the other NM varietals and it would be perfect. I would add two chopped jalapeños for more heat, or even one Hatch Sandia pepper. Great stuff! I don’t have a problem with bottled salsa either, I use Trader Joes brand myself.

  16. I tried a few others, one on the food channel that Guy promotes, that was ok but this was gonna be my last. HOLY CRAP. This was amazing. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding two large Serrano peppers and that was awesome right before the oven. Also stuck with loin even though I was told butt is best for longer cooking, that was perfect. The Anaheim peppers were a pain in my ass. The first three I barely got any skin off, so I ended up looking up and broiling them, put in zip lock. Got most of the skin off but the way it looks on videos and the way it is in real life WAY different. There has to be a better way.

      • Good tip, thanks. I sent this to a bunch o people, I was serious, this recipe is awesome. Have a good weekend.

  17. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I wanted a recipe that uses oregano cuz it adds a nice savory touch. Thanks alot.
    P.S. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  18. I’ve made this step by step twice and my family loves it. I had to order the Xochliti salsa verde online, it’s not sold any where around me. Great recipe, thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Melissa — So glad you and your family love the Chile Verde! FYI sometimes I have trouble finding the Xochitl salsa as well, so I’ve used other brands in a pinch (i.e., Rick Bayless roasted tomatillo) and the results are similar (but not exact).

  19. Still getting comments after over 10 years! I love that you don’t scrimp on the cumin and mexi oregano, most recipes are like 1tsp of each and I’m like umm try quadrupling that! Haven’t tried it with the jar salsa verde because I grow/can my own tomatillos and peppers, but I might try it now, just to see how it tastes.

    • Thanks for the note, Kate! Love that you grow your own tomatillos and peppers. The salsa is just a nice shortcut for those of us without that luxury! LMK how they compare.

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