I don’t really cook a lot of Mexican food. But rather, I require a lot of Mexican food. I chow down a lot of Mexican food. I tuck into it. Mexican food could be considered one of the base food groups in my own personal food pyramid. But I just don’t really cook it.
I think this is because making your own Mexican food in Austin is a little like cooking your own pizza in New York—why do it? There are many, many incredible options that can supply you with whatever you may need for not much cash. Interior, Tex Mex, breakfast, fancy, old school, hangover dive quality– it’s there waiting to satiate your requirement for tamales, huevos or anything else you might find yourself longing for. And the good stuff is delicious, effortless and unquestionably better than what you can accomplish yourself in your own kitchen.
That said a man has cravings. And I’m a bastard if I don’t crave chili verde on a regular basis.
As a rule, I tend to have some difficulty with all things moderation. If I like something, I really like it and I like it often and in quantity. And on a good chili verde tear I can eat the stuff morning, noon and night. If there’s a pot of chili verde in the fridge when I wake up? Slap it on some eggs and a tortilla for a breakfast taco. If it’s still there at noon? Heat it up with some rice and beans. Dinnertime? Well I guess there is chili verde to eat. Late night after a couple beers? Well hello mister spoon, it’s time for chili verde frio, shirtless in front of the fridge style. Maybe even spooning up a stray glob or two off my chest or counter– you know, because it’s late and I’m feeling classy.
To make it, you wake up early enough to get it going, burn the shit out of some choice ingredients (preferably over lump charcoal or oak logs). Sear off your pork and then let it all percolate while you mow the lawn, watch football or take a nap. By evening your house smells outstanding and you have a quality meal on your hands that has already provided several passerby snacking opportunities. By making your own, you can control the heat and acid levels to your liking and also allot yourself the gluttonous portions required for a proper fix. There is no better football food. In fact, I really don’t know if there’s a better fall food, and fall is the finest of all the eating seasons. Just fix yourself a bowl, lay on the couch and eat. If you happen to fall asleep, good news, you get to wake up to a bowl of chili verde… and sleepily fumbling through a half empty beer and some lukewarm pork stew is the definition of being a lucky, lucky man.
You can vary this a few ways, I really like the mellowness a few poblanos provide. I also like borderline eye-searing heat from several roasted serranos. You can mellow that by substituting jalapenos and using fewer of them. You can even add a little pureed avocado at the end if you’ll be eating this immediately for some added creaminess to the final texture.
2 or 3 lbs of pork shoulder, cubed into 1 inch pieces and seasoned aggressively with salt and pepper
About 15 tomatillos
2 or 3 poblanos
4 or 5 serrano peppers
Several cloves of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
2 or 3 limes
Salt and pepper
Start a charcoal or wood fire in your grill. Wash all your veg except the cilantro and lime and coat liberally with the vegetable oil. Peel the husks off the tomatillos, don’t worry about doing the same for the onion and garlic. Cook all the veg directly over a very, very hot fire until it’s blackened and blistered on all sides. Set aside and when it’s cool enough to handle, peel the onions and garlic, peel and stem the poblanos and serranos. Removing the seeds is up to you and how much heat you want. Add half your cilantro and the juice one of your limes then whir the whole mess in a food processor until it’s smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a heavy pot or dutch oven heat some vegetable oil till smoking and sear your pork until it’s thoroughly browned on all sides—work in batches if you need to, don’t overcrowd the pan. When all the pork is cooked add in the processed green chili and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up all the tasty browned fond that’s hiding there. Add a little water to losen things up if you need to. Cover and simmer the pork and green chili over very low heat for several hours. When the pork is starting to fall apart, mash the whole thing with a potato masher a couple times to break it down further. Chop more cilantro and add it along with more lime juice until the flavor is bright and complex. Adjust seasonings again. Eat while grunting audibly.