Green Chile Pork Stew is a spicy, hearty dish with roots in Mexican and New Mexican cuisine. I love to use a work-ahead strategy to make this stew: by completing the searing and deglazing steps the night before, I can put everything in the slow-cooker the next morning—easy, peasy.
Wisconsin’s normally hot and humid summer weather has been punctuated this year with several days of unseasonably cool—almost fall-like—temperatures. Last week, I found myself sitting on my 3-season porch wearing a sweatshirt, with a plush blanket draped over my legs. The upside of these cooler days is that they give me the perfect excuse to make soups and stews that would normally not make their appearance until fall!
Green Chile Pork Stew is based on a Mexican dish called caldito or caldillo that New Mexico—particularly in the region surrounding Santa Fe—adopted, evolved, and made its own regional dish—featuring the incomparable Hatch green chile.
My easy-to-make version of caldillo
For my spin on traditional Green Chile Pork Stew, I use a mix of roasted poblano and jalapeño peppers. If you don’t want to deal with roasting the chiles yourself, you can substitute canned roasted chiles (I’d estimate that 2 of the little tins of roasted green chiles are the equivalent of about 1 poblano pepper).
In this version of Green Chile Pork Stew, I’ve added a South American touch by incorporating yuca root with the traditional vegetables.
What is yuca??
Yuca (pronounced You-ka) is much like a potato in the final analysis, but with a creamier texture and an almost buttery flavor. However, they’re not closely related: while potatoes belong to the nightshade family along with tomatoes and eggplant (yes, really!), yuca is a member of the spurge family. It has a gnarlier, woodier skin than potatoes, which you have to completely peel off (a potato peeler is just fine for this job). The root also tends to have a fibrous core that needs to be cut out during prep.
Although I was stoked to see yuca root in the produce department at my local grocery store, the checkout clerk was less than thrilled to see it at her register. Yuca root is also known as cassava, mandioca, or manioc (among other names). None of these were in the computer. It took some doing to track down someone who knew what the root was, and how to code it in. I’m happy to report, though, that when I bought yuca again yesterday, someone had helpfully written the number into the code book.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how the addition of yuca would fly with the fam. I said, “pick them out if you don’t like them.” As it turned out, the yuca was a hit—at least with the three Franks who were home and eating Green Chile Pork Stew that night!
Other slight flavor/simplicity adjustments…
I’ve also added a bit of cumin seed to my version of Green Chile Pork Stew: I’m a big fan of not having every bite taste exactly the same, and the unexpected pop of flavor you get with the softened cumin seed is amazing. Feel free to leave it out if that idea doesn’t appeal to you.
I can’t get Hatch chiles in Wisconsin—except in cans, and on the extremely rare occasions when they’re in season and my local grocery ships them in. I use roasted poblanos as a substitute. If you can get Hatch green chiles, though, go for it!
I love to serve the Green Chile Pork Stew with warm tortillas, chopped cilantro, avocado slices, and grated cheese. I swirl a small spoonful of sour cream through the stew to knock the flavor out of the park.
This meal lends itself well to the make-ahead strategy in the Flipped-Out Food Playbook: if you make Green Chile Pork Stew one or even two days in advance, the flavors marry and deepen. Alternatively, Green Chile Pork Stew is a great cooking project to have “running in the background” for anyone working from home. I’ve made the stew in the pressure-cooker and slow-cooker, as well as on the stovetop. I’m partial to the slow-cooker method, which is what I’ll relate here.
I know it’s mid-summer here in the US, but fall is just around the corner. So stick a pin in this one and eat it when the weather turns cool. Or, just do what I do (weird-o that I am): drink hot coffee, take hot showers, and eat hot soup…all summer long.
Caldillo: Green Chile Pork Stew
FOR THE STEW
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 ~3 lb. boneless pork shoulder butt roast, - trimmed and cut into ~1" cubes
- 2 roasted poblano peppers,* - peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 roasted jalapeño pepper,* - peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 large Vidalia onion, - coarsely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, - coarsely minced
- 1 cup baby carrots, - sliced ~1/4" thick on the bias
- 1/2 cup baby potatoes, - quartered**
- 1/2 cup yuca,*** - peeled and diced into ~1/2" cubes**
- 4 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp. dried Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp. salt, - or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, - or to taste
- warm tortillas
- chopped cilantro
- thinly sliced jalapeño
- sliced avocado
- sour cream
- grated cheese
- Dry the pork with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add ¼ of the pork cubes. Brown on all sides, then remove to a bowl and add the next small batch of meat cubes. Repeat until all meat cubes have been browned, adding more oil as necessary.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are slightly translucent and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat to high and add the cumin seeds. Stir for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the beef broth, scraping to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the browned pork, onion and broth mixture, remaining broth, water, salt and pepper, and bay leaves to the crock of a slow-cooker. Cover and set on low for 7 hours.
- Prep and cook the carrots, potatoes, and yuca, either steaming or parboiling until easily pierced with a paring knife (or see work-ahead in the notes). Add to the slow-cooker along with the roasted peppers and Mexican oregano. Turn slow-cooker to high for 15-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve.
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