Chile Verde stew is a tangy, smoky Mexican dish, frequently made with chicken as the protein. I have made it with pork shoulder, and another time with chuck roast, both of which added to the richness of the stew as they have more fat than chicken. Whichever protein you choose, it is a great comfort food to enjoy in cold weather. The refreshing crunch of a jicama tomatillo slaw is the perfect side dish.
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The Flavor Benefits of Slow Cooking the Stew
In Mexico the pork version is known as Carne De Puerco En Salsa Verde (pork in green sauce). And in Mexico cooks tend to take the time to slow cook this stew with available fresh ingredients. Sadly, in the Mexican-American version of this dish found in many restaurants, canned chiles are often used along with cooking leaner cuts of pork for shorter periods of time.
Slow cooking this dish at home with fresh ingredients is definitely going to give you a surprising taste treat if you haven’t had a home-made version before.
Slow cooking this stew as a slow braise, and using a pork shoulder or a chuck roast with plenty of fat allows the meat to remain incredibly juicy. The pungent, spicy sauce mellows out as it cooks and you end up with a dish that is pretty incredible.
Just give yourself some time to let the flavors of the sauce develop while rendering the meat tender. Take a Sunday and watch a movie, play a card game with the family, or take a nice long nap.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The key to a memorable chile verde stew is cooking the meat low and slow. Here are some tips for pulling the most flavor out of your stew ingredients:
Whether you are using a pork butt or a chuck roast the key is to look for a fatty cut that is evenly marbled, which means the animal was well-fed but also had a chance to exercise.
It should have a healthy pink color with no smell when it is raw.
It is possible to achieve depth of flavor with a pre-made chile verde salsa, as long as you add a few key spices and cook the dish for several hours to blend the flavors.
If you have the time and the ingredients available, you can pretty easily make your own homemade chile verde sauce.
The slow cooked meat and the chile verde sauce are the keys to this recipe. From there, most cooks tend to improvise. A few ingredients I have used that worked well in this stew include:
- nopales (cactus)
- dried avocado leaves
- shredded carrots
- a range of different chile peppers from poblano to habanero
Here are the ingredients below for a beef version using a pre-made chile verde sauce.
Illustrated Steps for Beef Chile Verde Stew
These steps would be the same for the pork version of this stew. Just use a pork shoulder (butt roast) for the meat instead of a chuck roast.
Step #1: Cut the roast into 1-inch pieces
Step #2: Sear the meat in oil
Step #3: Saute onions until caramelized
Step #4: Simmer meat, salsa verde and stock for 2 1/2 hours
Ideas for Leftovers
- Tacos: One batch of this should be enough to feed 6-8 people. In our household there are only the two of us now, but I am a big fan of using these leftovers for a high protein breakfast or lunch. The easiest way to use the leftovers of this stew is in chile verde tacos.
- Soup: Leftovers can also be turned into a great soup by adding some chicken stock and whatever vegetables you have in your refrigerator. Heat it up and add a soft-boiled egg on top and you have an amazing breakfast or lunch. (or dinner actually).
- Breakfast: Want a great low carb Mexican breakfast? Try this Chile Verde with Baked Eggs (with or without the meat).
- Heat it up! I’m pretty lazy with my leftovers actually and have been known to eat the same dish three days in a row. When it is as good as this, it is certainly not a problem!
Recipe for Pork or Beef Chile Verde Stew
Low Carb Chile Verde Stew
Homemade Chile Verde Sauce (can sub in pre-made)
- 1.5 lbs tomatillos husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 bunch cilantro reserve some for garnish if desired
- 1 bunch green onions
- 2-3 green chiles mild or medium- I used 1 Anaheim and 2 poblanos
- 2-3 cups unsalted chicken broth divided, can add more if needed
For the Stew:
- 2 tbsp olive oil or lard
- 3 lbs pork shoulder or chuck roast cut into fairly large cubes (about 1 1/2 inches)
- 1 large onion coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds or 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1 tsp smoked chipotle spice I used HeathGlen's chipotle spice but you could use your favorite
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 Cup chicken broth
To Make Verde Sauce:
- Heat the oven to broil. Half the tomatillos and place them, along with 6 unpeeled garlic cloves, on a baking sheet and broil for 5-6 minutes1.5 lbs tomatillos, 5-6 cloves garlic
- In a food processor or a blender add 1/2 of the pan of the roasted tomatillos, all of the roasted garlic cloves, cilantro, coarsely chopped green onions and peppers, and 1 cup chicken broth. Puree until chunky or smooth, depending on your preference. This is the salsa verde. Set aside.**Note: if you want to skip this step you can use prepared salsa verde1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch green onions, 2-3 green chiles, 2-3 cups unsalted chicken broth
For the Pork Stew:
- Cut the meat into 1-2 inch pieces, removing some of the fat if it is really fatty. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven or a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt while waiting for the oil to heat (can sprinkle with pepper also if desired).2 tbsp olive oil, 3 lbs pork shoulder or chuck roast
- Add pork or beef pieces to the heated pot, working in batches (don't crowd, 3 lbs. of meat will need to be divided into 2 batches). Cook until each side is browned, turning to brown the other side also. Remove meat to a plate with a long slotted spoon or long tongs (the oil splatters) and cook the next batch.
- When all meat is browned and removed from pot, lower the heat to medium and add the chopped onion to the leftover oil in the pot and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent.1 large onion
- Add the garlic and spices, stir in and cook 1 minute. Return pork to the pot, along with any juices on the plate. Add 2 cups of the salsa verde (either purchased or the chile verde salsa made earlier), 1 cup of broth, stir and bring to a gentle boil.1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp smoked chipotle spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp oregano, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 Cup chicken broth
- Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer over medium-low heat about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Check occasionally and thin with chicken broth if needed.
- Serve with accompaniments, which could include sour cream, cilantro sprigs, avocados and limes.
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