Flavorful and mild
Most chili recipes call for dried chilies—especially red ones in the form of powder. But chili made with fresh, whole green chilies has tremendous flavor.
Green chilies are just juvenile red chilies. Red chilies are fully ripe, and often are dried before using (which concentrates their flavor and spiciness). You can also find spicy green chilies, but it’s more common to see mildly flavored ones—perfect for those who like a bowl of chili, but don’t want serious heat.
In this recipe, we pair tasty green chilies with “pulled” pork. The meat we’re using is really just Mexican-style shredded pork (similar to that which is often found in tacos, burritos, and enchiladas), but it has virtually the same texture and appearance as the traditional wood-smoked pulled pork used for barbeque dishes. And it has great flavor.
So taste buds, prepare to tingle.
Recipe: Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Genuine pulled pork makes a dandy substitute for shredded pork in this recipe. But using Mexican-style shredded pork is much easier and faster because you don’t need to wood-smoke and slow-cook the pork (which can take half a day.)
This recipe has a number of steps, but it’s not complicated. You need to prepare the shredded (or pulled) pork. You also need to roast green chile peppers so it will be easier to peel off their skins (which taste rather unpleasant). Then you need to combine the two with beans and cook them to make, well, chili.
BTW, exact measurements aren’t critical here: As long as you’re in the ballpark, things will be fine. In particular, you may decide you want to use less or more pork or green chilies.
To save time, you can substitute already cooked, BBQ-style pulled pork (just as long as it hasn’t been doused with barbecue sauce). And you can substitute canned green chilies—check the Mexican aisle of your supermarket and you’ll find something there. See Notes for more about substitutions.
If you use substitutions, this recipe takes a bit more than an hour to prepare (including about 15 minutes hands-on prep time). If you make the recipe as written, add another 2½ hours or so—but most of that time is unattended.
This recipe makes six hearty servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or you can freeze them for up to six months.
For the pulled pork:
- ~2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder (this will make about a pound of cooked, shredded pork)
- salt and pepper to season (about ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; see Notes)
- 1 - 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 or 2 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons dried chile powder (optional; I like either Hatch Medium or Ancho)
- ~9 ounces mild to medium green chilies (about 7 whole chilies; use Hatch green chilies if you can find them; otherwise, Anaheim green chiles make a good substitute—see Notes)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- ~1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste; about half this amount if using regular table salt)
- ~½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 - 3 jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want the chili to be)
- 2 - 3 garlic cloves
- 7 - 8 ounces roasted, diced green chilies (see below for preparation; may substitute canned—see Notes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
- ~1 pound pulled pork (see below for preparation; may use up to twice this amount)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- water or chicken stock (for quantity, see Step 9 of Chili Procedure below)
- cayenne pepper or chili powder (optional)
- 2 - 3 cans of red kidney beans (or ~½ pound cooked dried kidney beans; see Notes)
additional salt and pepper to taste
- garnish of jalapeño pepper or shredded cheddar cheese (optional; see Notes for more garnish possibilities)
For the pulled pork:
- Rub the pork with salt and pepper to very lightly cover.
- Heat a Dutch oven or covered casserole large enough to hold the pork (about 4 quarts) on the stovetop at medium heat. When hot, add the oil and let it heat (it’ll shimmer; this takes maybe 15 seconds). Add the pork and brown all sides (this will take about 15 minutes).
- When the pork is nicely browned, add a cup of water and the chile powder, if using. Bring to a simmer, cover, and set timer for 1 hour.
- At the hour mark, check the water and add more if necessary. Set the timer for another hour.
- When the timer goes off (2 hours total cooking time to this point), check the pork for tenderness—a paring knife should easily penetrate the meat and it should be starting to shred. Cook longer if you wish (no more than 3 hours total), but it should be ready now.
- Let the pork cool, then—using a pair of forks—shred the meat. Discard the fat and the bone, and reserve the meat (a bit more than a pound) for the chili.
- Note: What to do with the leftover cooking liquid? You can cool and degrease it, then use it in place of some of the water in the chili recipe; or just discard it.
- Wash the green chilies and spread them out on a broiler pan (preferably one with a wire rack). Place under the broiler and heat until the chile skins begin to blister and turn black. Turn the chilies and repeat until all sides are blistered. (If in doubt, turn early and often.)
- Place the chilies in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. Allow them to steam for 15 minutes or so.
- Put on a pair of kitchen gloves to protect your hands from the chile spices. Using your hands, rub the skin of each chile until it comes off. This usually is quite easy to do, but if necessary you can use a paring knife to help with recalcitrant parts.
- Next, cut off the stem end of each chile (just below the stem). Slit open each chile lengthwise and (wearing gloves) remove the seeds and cut off the white pith (these parts contain much of the chile “heat” without contributing much flavor).
- Dice the chilies into pieces about ½ inch square, and use in chili preparation below. BTW, you might want to nibble a small piece now to judge the heat index of the chile. If it's too hot, you may want to reduce the amount you use in the recipe.
- Peel and dice the onions.
- Warm a large Dutch oven—one that holds 6 quarts or more—over medium heat (this is what you’ll be using to cook the chili).
- When the Dutch oven is warm, add 2 tablespoons of neutral oil and allow it to heat (it will shimmer when it’s hot). Then add the diced onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is slightly brown (5 - 8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). Place the peppers in a bowl until you’re ready to use them, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin. You may want to reserve a slice or two of the pepper for garnish.
- Peel the garlic and either mince it finely or slice thinly (I usually slice garlic because I like larger pieces).
- When the onion is slightly brown, add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the diced green chilies, plus the cumin and coriander. Stir and allow to cook for a minute or two.
- Add the shredded or pulled pork, stir, and cook for a minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes, plus a can of water or the equivalent amount of chicken stock to create a nice soupy consistency.
- Bring the chili mixture to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes (or longer—timing is not critical).
- At the half-hour mark, taste the chili and add cayenne pepper or chili powder if you want to jazz up the flavor. Pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them well; then add the beans to the cooking pot. Cook the chili for another 20 or 30 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning and serve. Garnish with optional slices of jalapeño peppers or a bit of shredded cheddar cheese (see Notes for other garnish possibilities).
- Let me reiterate that exact quantities of pork or green chilies (or anything, really) are not critical in this recipe. In particular, if you’re new to green chilies and are uncertain about how well you’d like their flavor, use less (even half as much as I specify). In that case, if the chili turns out blander than you were expecting (a real possibility), just add some cayenne or chile/chili powder to the dish halfway through cooking to liven it up.
- Just a reminder: Chile powder is made from dried red chilies that are ground up. Chili powder is a combination of chile powder, plus cumin, coriander, and other spices.
- Hatch green chilies, from New Mexico, have deep flavor—so use those if you can (they’re often hard to find throughout much of the US).
- Green chilies vary from mild to rather hot, and you often don’t know what you’ll be getting until you try them. So it’s an adventure! Use less at first if you’re worried about the heat level. I suggest tasting a small piece so you can judge the heat index, and use less if you think your chiles are too spicy.
- If you can’t find Hatch chilies, substitute whatever long, thin green chile pepper you can find. Every supermarket carries Anaheim chilies, which have good flavor (I recommend them). These are quite mild, so don’t be afraid to use more rather than fewer of these.
- If you don’t want to roast your own chilies, you can buy canned ones in the Mexican aisle of your supermarket. The cans come in various sizes, but you can almost always find a 4-ounce size. Pick up two of these.
- BTW, my instructions for roasting chilies are very basic (I didn’t want to make this post too long). For a thorough and complete description of how to roast and peel green chilies, visit MJ’s Kitchen. She does a great job of describing how to roast them on a grill (or you can use a broiler, as I do). And she’s forgotten more things about green chilies than I’ll ever know—check out her other recipes while you’re there.
- As noted above, if you have some traditional wood-smoked pulled pork on hand (without added Q sauce), by all means use it in this dish—it’ll be sensational. Otherwise, simply prepare Mexican-style shredded pork as directed.
- I find that about 2 pounds of untrimmed (i.e., no fat removed) bone-in pork shoulder will yield a little more than a pound of cooked meat. But a bit more or less doesn’t matter much in this recipe.
- Canned beans are easy to use in this recipe and have acceptable flavor, but make sure you wash off the gunk they’re packed in (Step 11). Dark red kidney beans work best in chili, though I sometimes combine them with light red kidney beans and pintos just to have a nice mix of flavors and colors. If you prefer to substitute dried beans for canned (I often do), prepare half a pound of dried beans.
- How to prepare dried beans? The easiest way is the “quick-soak” method: Sort through the beans, looking for dirt or stones; then rinse off the beans and pour them into a 4-quart (or larger) pot. Fill the pot with water to within a couple inches of the rim; place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the stove and cover the pot; let it sit for an hour. Once the hour is up, drain the beans; place them in a smaller cooking pot and cover them with about an inch of water. Add a peeled and halved onion and several cloves of garlic (peeled or not) for flavoring, then bring the beans to a simmer. Simmer until they’re tender—typically about 45 minutes to an hour for kidney beans. Drain the beans and discard the onion and garlic; then add the beans to the cooking chili in Step 11.
- Kosher salt is more coarse than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting table salt for Kosher, always use less—about half as much. If the dish isn’t salty enough, you can always add more to taste.
- If you like thick chili, cook it a bit longer to evaporate more of the liquid. If you prefer a thinner, soupier mix, you can add some water at the end to achieve the consistency you prefer.
- There are many garnishes for chili that not only look great, but add a flavor boost. A slice or two of jalapeño pepper is a great garnish, as is some shredded or grated cheddar cheese. Or use oyster crackers, a sprinkle of diced raw onion, or a dollop of sour cream.
Mild or Wild?
“Terrific flavor,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, spooning her Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili.
“Yup,” I said. “Those Hatch green chilies deliver. And these aren’t hot at all.”
“The supermarket must have been selling the mild ones,” said Mrs K R. “Some green chilies can pack heat.”
“Which is why I suggest Anaheim chile peppers for those who don’t want to walk on the wild side,” I said. “The ones you’ll find in most grocery stores are from California, and they’re usually much milder than the ones grown in New Mexico.”
“Of course, I love spicy,” said Mrs K R. “I really like that beef chili that you featured in the post on Chili Basics—especially since you tend to add much more chile powder than specified in the recipe. I can’t get enough of that!”
“Well, that’s because you’re a wild thing,” I said.
“Hey, isn’t it against blogging rules to reference two different songs in the same post?” asked Mrs K R.
“Oops,” I said.
“But your chili does make my heart sing!” she added.
That’s Mrs K R. She makes everything . . . groovy.
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