Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken Chili (or Chile) Verde - Celebrating the Mysterious Tomatillo

During culinary school I worked at a Mexican restaurant in Saranac Lake, NY, called Casa Del Sol. Which, as we used to joke, means "Casa of Sol." My favorite dish was the Chile Verde. Large chucks of pork shoulder simmered slowly in an exotic green sauce of tomatillos and chilies. The tomatillos we used were caned - and I was fascinated by the mysterious tomatillo graphics that decorated the label - but it wasn't until I arrived in California that I saw the real thing.
What an odd vegetable, or is it a fruit? As you will see in video, it sort of looks like a green tomato, which it isn't. It has this strange, veiny, paper covering, like a giant green gooseberry - and the flavor is even more perplexing. It's sort of tart, kind of sour, with hints of citrus and green apple. I sound like one of those wine geeks (no offense). Paired with sweet onions, and savory chicken, this recipe a great way to experience tomatillos for the first time.

The real way to spell this recipe is "Chile" verde, not "Chili" verde. But, both spellings are used, and since this particular recipe is more about the chicken simmered in spicy sauce, than the green peppers, I used the Americanized "Chili." Enjoy!



Ingredients:
1 chicken, cut up in 6 pieces
8 tomatillos
2 jalapenos
6 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 cups chicken stock
1 onion
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lb potatoes
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
yogurt or sour cream

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

that does look good, but I would have to do it with the pork i think.

Julius said...

Looks delicious! Looks like a mix from thailand and chile, awsome.

//Caesar

Anonymous said...

Chef - could you pl show us how to make a good cassoulet whenever time permits? Thanks much in advance. AP

Chef John said...

yes, thai/chile fusion, good call. Does look like a green curry.

Chef John said...

Mmmmm...cassoulet. I think when the weather gets a little cooler I will try this for a video.

Jimmy said...

That looks good, I know what I'm having for dinner today.

btw, there's no potato in the ingredient list!

Chef John said...

Thanks! I just added them. But, was the exclamation point really necessary? ;-)

CharGeorge said...

Our CSA is supposed to be delivering hot peppers soon, as soon as that happens i'm going to take this for a spin. I don't trust supermarket peppers yet. I've always wanted something to do with tomatillos, now that they can be found in NYC grocers.

shreela said...

I'll be buying some tomatillas and jalapenos (I bet they're cheap right now) my next trip to the store. But I'm going to use the crockpot after browning 8^)

There was a chili vs chile thread on reddit recently. IIRC, it might have been the Brits telling us that "chile" is a country, not a pepper. ROFL

Superdude said...

Sorry to cavil, but won't the breasts be inedible simmering for nearly 2 hours? It seems like they would dry out really bad in this recipe.

regardless, you're awesome chef John, your blog is my favorite food reference!

Chef John said...

You would be right if it was cooked for 40 minutes, but after that long the breast meat is tender, broken apart and is soaked with sauce, making it "seem" moist. Ideally I would use all dark meat, but had a whole chicken.

BTW, I had to look up cavil, "to raise irritating and trivial objections" Good choice of words! ;)

Ricardo said...

Hi Chef. I love your site and have learned and laughed a lot with it. I am Mexican, and respectfully, if you want this to be really Mexican (and it is), please take off the cumin. We do NOT cook with cumin, save rare dishes, and then it is always the seed, not gound cumin (very different effect). Suggestion, use only thighs and legs (or pork), and re heat it once or more. Day after day, the meat shreds and its better. We would call it Chicken en Salsa Verde (Chicken in Green Sauce). Thanks

Chef John said...

Thanks for watching! I never make anything that's authentic (it stunts my creativity). I also never make the same thing twice. I like cumin so I add it, and it was in the version I made at the Case del Sol in college.

I have probably made your version before and enjoyed it greatly, as I did this one, and as I will the next one. Do not fall victim to the tyranny of the recipe!

Kevin said...

This chicken simmered in a tomatillo sauce sounds really tasty!

katie said...

This dish looks so good. Im making it right now. Im using my pressure cooker so it should only take 15 minutes of cooking instead of hours.

Also, there were no jalapenos in the grocery because of contamination so I used hungarian wax pepper, it was buring my hands while I cut it so I think it will be plenty hot in the meal. Is Hungarian Wax a good substitute? Would you suggest something else to replace jalapeno? I plan to post my results on my blog in the next day or so, if you are interested.

Chef John said...

i think any pepper will work really. Let me know when the post is up!

katie said...

My post is up
http://pharmacokatie.blogspot.com/2008/07/chicken-chile-verde.html
Thanks for a great dinner tonight!

Richard B. said...

I am a god in my own home - having made the chicken chile verde for dinner and the cherry clafouti for dessert. Both were huge hits. I did, however, substitute a cup of uncooked rice for the potatoes. Thickened the sauce nicely and seemed like a good match for the "south of the border" feel. Turned out great. Thanks much for continuing this wonderful site!!

Chef John said...

the rice is a nice alternative. I'm glad you are a God!

Robert said...

That's funny, a few months ago I was hoping you would make a chili verde for us. Guess I lucked out. Thanks chef!

Alice said...

Casa Del Sol in Saranac Lake?? Just visited family up there, and can't remember if that restaurant is still there. That area is so restaurant deprived it struck me as funny that this recipe came from there - many years ago, I'm guessing.
Sorry this is off topic - the recipe does look great, as do many many others.

CQ said...

Chef,
If I can't find Tomatillo's at my local store, can Whole Tomatoes (crushed) be substituted?

Thanks

Chef John said...

You can, but not the same. Did you check the Mexican foods area of the nearest large chain supermarket? They all carry canned tomatillos. I would ask the store.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I'll save you the gory details. You would not believe the trip I went through from my negligence in handling and breathing the ingredients. The end result was worth it though. Yum! Yum! was it goood!

parsonsjohn43 said...

When did you work there?

Chef John said...

1982

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John this recipe looks excellent but I have chicken cutlets rather than chicken on the bone would I be able to cook it the same? Or would the chicken cook too quickly and burn?

-A new cook :/

Chef John said...

this recipe really needs chicken on the bone.

EL FORY said...

As a Mexican I can give you some tips on this.

First, you need to boil, the tomatillos, garlic, and onios with salt for about 7 minutes; that's about the time the tomatillos need to change from their gren color to a sort of "olive" green color. Do not overcook.

then you put the tomatillos, onions and garlid with cilantro, white vinegar, and salt in the blender, but do not mix too much, and do not put too much water. it should have kind of a salsa texture.

Then, in order to "tie" the flavors, you need to "fry" the tomatillo salsa in vegetable oil... that's how you reduce it.

Then, you pour it onto the chicken and cook it they way you do it.

And last ... that cream does not belong there... instead use cilantro...

Well ... justa suggestion

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef
I went to Paul Smith's as I believe you must have but way before you.

Chef John said...

Yes I did! Grad 1983

Anonymous said...

I like to cut the onion, tomatillos and jalapinos and roast them on a baking sheet. It gives the chile a slight smokey flavor!

Anonymous said...

Rena from California has made this dish 2-times and it is fabulous!!! I am new to even attempting to cook a meal, I've always been afraid of it not being edible!! I found this site and watched the video and it was actually easy. I do prefer the dark chicken vs. breasts. Actually, I think pork would be a little on the tough side (personal opinion). I think Next time I might try it with the rice instead of potato's like another person above said. This dish is definitely a 5-star meal.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Every dish I've happened to cook with tomatillos has been a delight.

Next time I ever get the chance to grow a vegetable garden, I'll be sure to grow plenty of tomatillos and jalapenos.

Debbie said...

I was searching for a recipe for chicken chile verde and found this video on U Tube.
I made it yesterday for my family and we loved it! I garnished the dish with a little chopped tomato, cilantro sprigs, and sliced radishes.
I have tried a recipe for pork chile verde which was really involved-lots of prep but this delicious sauce was super easy to make, as was the entire recipe and I will be making this great dish again. Thank you!

Mark Anderson said...

Another winner. Just the right balance of heat and piquant flavor (whatever that means.)

kit-kat said...

I have never thought of making this with chicken.. I am intrigued! I will try this with chicken soon enough.

But I must agree with an above poster. The 'chile verde' is preferably made with slightly boiled tomatillos and jalapenos. Then added to the blender with a bit of water, garlic and the cilantro.

It makes all the difference in the world. :)

Deacon Solomon said...

"Chef John" ought to know, and so should the rest of you:

"Chile" is the long, skinny nation on the Pacific coast of Latin America. Look it up in any atlas.

A "Chili" is one of those little peppers that we use to make Chili. Look it up if you don't believe me.

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Your ingredient list indicates "2 tbsp"(tablespoons) of cumin. Are you sure that you didn't mean two teaspoons?

Chef John said...

i think you're right! but, season to taste regardless! thanks!