A few essential components for chili: garlic, salt and your favorite chili peppers.
Back when our family was vacationing in Tepotzlan, Mexico, we hoped we’d improve our Spanish by speaking it while we learned how to make green chili sauce (chile verde) for our chicken enchilada dinner.
I’m sharing two versions of the recipe I learned in central Mexico.
A practical recipe for chili verde
First, the practical one, which involves driving to the store and buying the foods and preparing them.
All I was told, in Spanish, by the Mexican woman at the language school, that was needed to make green chili sauce was the following: garlic, tomatillos, salt, lemon juice, and one jalapeño pepper.
We used a regular blender and pureed those ingredients.
That’s the easiest and fastest way to make chile verde that I know of, really.
KASO’s chili verde
It’s not that I thought it tasted bad like that; it’s just that I thought I could make it taste better.
The second recipe incorporates similar ingredients, but the acquisition of them is quite different. In my version, ongoing work is involved before the recipe can even be made–because we grow the items ourselves. But once you have the ingredients fresh out of the garden or defrosted from the freezer, it’s the same simple matter of preparing them.
My chile verde is a ‘Slow Food‘ version. That means that it’s been made with ingredients grown no farther than sixty miles away.
In our case, a few of the ingredients were grown fifty to a hundred feet away in our lot we call ‘the South Forty.’
For our chicken enchiladas, we raise ‘meat bird’ chicks and butcher the fowl when they are full-grown.
After a roast chicken dinner, I freeze all the bones until I’m ready to make bone broth.
Place all the chicken bones from one bird in a Dutch oven and fill it 2/3rds full of water. Cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until the bones are almost soft (about 6-48 hours). Remove bones. Add chopped garlic, onion and sea salt and simmer covered until those ingredients soften.
1. Reserve 2 cups of broth for chile verde.
Preserve Meyer’s Lemons by freezing them into ice cube shapes for flavoring recipes and drinking water.
Plant three Dwarf Meyer’s Lemon trees and wait a few years for them to produce fruit. Keep the aphids, ants and scales off of the trees! Juice the lemons. Freeze juice in ice cube trays. Empty into freezer bags and keep frozen to use as needed.
2. Select three ice cubes (about 3 Tbsp) of Meyer’s Lemon juice out of a bag in the freezer.
Washed and peeled tomatillos have a sticky substance on their skin.
Buy your neighbor’s lot next door to avoid a 5,000 square foot monstrosity blocking your view. Buy organically composted dirt to replenish crummy clay soil. Plant a butt-load of tomatillos in the spring–not from seed, but the more expensive 3-inch plant version. Marvel at the plant’s fruit-parachutes dangling from the stalks like little explosions.
3. Peel sticky skins of tomatillos. Wash. Reserve 20 tomatillos (or enough to fill a blender).
Plant garlic bulbs. Harvest and dry them.
Braid them for easy access (optional).
4. Reserve 5 cloves of garlic for chili sauce.
Grow Serrano, Habanero, Poblano, and Jalapeno Peppers. Roast them in the oven with olive oil. Cool. Layer by type in wax paper. Label by type and place in freezer bags for use as needed.
5. Collect three peppers from your hot-pepper freezer stash. Defrost and de-seed them. Wash your hands! Don’t rub eyes!
Chili verde is made perfect in a Vitamix, but a food processor or regular blender works too.
6. Combine the following:
KASO’s Chile Verde
2 C bone broth
5 cloves of garlic
20 (or, enough to fill a blender) tomatillos
2 tsp. Himalayan sea salt (I know this breaks 60 mile rule)
2 tsp. heated cumin
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 pinch of cayenne
1-2 de-seeded hot peppers of your choosing (use an amount based on how spicy you like it)
7. Puree the ingredients in a blender.
8. Simmer covered in a pot on the stove.
(Optional: thicken by adding 1 Tbsp. of Arrowroot to 1/2 C of water and stir until blended–then add to sauce and heat until thicker.)
Uses of Chile Verde
I’ve used my sauce as a stock for pork chili verde posole soup or as an enchilada sauce.
At the language school, we were taught to make enchiladas the following way: we dipped corn tortillas in the green sauce; stuffed the tortillas with shredded chicken; rolled the tortillas into an oblong shape; topped the enchiladas with more chile verde; sprinkled them with cotija cheese; and warmed the enchiladas in the oven until the meat was warm and the cheese was melted.
That sums up my two ways to make chili verde. Their difficulty is relative. The taste is authentic either way you make it. The recipe from the language school obviously stuck, but why am I still babbling like a preschooler when I speak Spanish?
I’m curious, which one will you try or which one do you prefer? Do you have your own recipe for green chili sauce? If so, please feel free to share it. I am very interested to learn new ways to make it.