This recipe is based on an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, so you know it’s going to be great.
It’s not a difficult recipe, and it does take some work and some time—but it’s well worth it.
What you’ll need:
- 3.5 to 4 lbs. of pork butt roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½-inch pieces, pieces of fat reserved
- 1T plus 1t kosher salt, divided
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 lbs. tomatillos, husks and stems removed, rinsed and dried
- 5 poblano chiles, stemmed, halved, and seeded
- 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges through the root end
- 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and halved
- 1T vegetable oil
- 1t dried oregano
- 1t ground cumin
- 0.5t ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2t sugar
- 1t ground pepper
- 0.5 cups minced fresh cilantro, plus extra for serving—I skipped this, to no ill effect
- Lime wedges–optional
When cutting up the pork roast, cut away and reserve the large areas of fat, cutting them into small pieces. Set aside.
Toss the cut-up pork pieces (not the fat) with 1T salt in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, transfer the cut-up pork fat to a Dutch oven. Add a cup of water and bring it to a simmer over high heat. Cook, adjusting heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid evaporates and the fat begins to sizzle—about 10 minutes. Continue to cook the pork fat, stirring frequently, until a dark fond forms on bottom of pot and trimmings have browned and crisped, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the trimmings and pour off all but 2T of the fat.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and another rack 6 inches from the broiler element—turn on the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place the tomatillos, poblanos, onion, garlic, and jalapeño on the foiled sheet and drizzle with oil. Arrange the chilis skin-side up. Broil until chili the chili skins are blackened and the rest of the vegetables begin to soften—about 11 minutes. Rotate the sheet halfway through broiling. When they’re done broiling, transfer the poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic to a cutting board.
Set your oven to bake at 325 degrees F. Transfer the tomatillos, onion, and any accumulated juices to a food processor. When the poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the blackened skins (it’s OK if small bits of chili skin remain). Remove the seeds from the jalapeño and reserve. Add the poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is roughly pureed (like a salsa), about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of the bowl, as needed. If you want to add more heat, add some reserved jalapeño seeds and pulse a few more times.
Heat the reserved fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat until just shimmering. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cloves, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant—about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatillo mixture, bay leaves, sugar, pepper, and remaining 1t of salt, scraping up and stirring in any browned bits. Stir in the pork and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the pork is tender. Start checking for doneness at about 45 minutes, and every 10 minutes, after that. Feel free to give it a quick stir, too.
When the meat is cooked through, remove the pot from oven and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fish out and discard the bay leaves. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, scrape the browned bits from the sides of pot, and stir in any fat that has risen to top of chili. Stir in the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with lime wedges and extra cilantro as a garnish.
Toasted/charred flour tortillas go great with this chili.