s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

It can be hard to keep chiles straight. Which ones are hot? Which ones are sweet? Which ones are sometimes hot and sometimes not?

The names themselves don’t always help. Let me use two varieties that are currently enjoying a lot of popularity, the poblano and the Hatch, to illustrate what I mean.

The poblano is a fairly large chile, with deep-green fresh, shiny skin and broad shoulders. It ranges from sweet to moderately hot ,and it is impossible to tell what you have until you bite into one. Its name is easy enough to pronounce, but it is often misidentified, especially in supermarkets, where it may be called “pasilla.”

To make matters more confusing, many writers and cookbook authors have explained that a dried poblano is correctly called a pasilla. This is not accurate; a dried poblano is an ancho; a pasilla is a dried chilaca, which is long and thin.

Got that?

Hatch chiles seem to be the hip chile of the moment, surpassing Padrons and shishitos in trendiness and having all manner of health benefits attributed to them. But a Hatch chile is simply a mild New Mexico chile that is grown in the Hatch Valley, New Mexico. The long, thin chile also is known as an Anaheim.

Hatch chiles actually grown in Hatch Valley do have their own terroir, but all chiles do, no matter where they are grown. They do not taste like Hatch chiles grown elsewhere, including here in Sonoma County.

When it comes to buying chiles at this time of year, you know my advice: Get them at your nearest farmers market or farm stand. If you aren’t sure what you want, figure out the level of heat you like and then talk to the farmer.

The meaty poblano is one of my favorite chiles. I enjoy it in tacos, soups, posole, chile verde and other stews, and sometimes use it, pureed with other ingredients, as a sauce. When I have a bounty of poblanos, I sear them and pack them into freezer bags and put them in the freezer, where they will be perfect for soup over the winter.

One of my favorite foods in the world is chile verde, and there are so many versions, some made with chicken, though pork is traditional and others with a lot of either fresh or canned tomatillos. I’ve followed many recipes, but I’ve never found one I prefer to the one here, which I’ve developed on my own over many years of experimentation and love. For actual chile verde, consult the serving suggestions below.

If you don’t have a slow cooker or prefer not to use one, you can prepare this in the oven. When I do so, I layer things as described in the main recipe in a clay pot, set it in a cold oven and then cook everything on 250 degrees for about 5 hours. Use your intuition, your eyes and your nose to guide you to perfect.

Basic Slow-Cooker Pork & Poblanos, with Serving Options

Serves 6 to 8

3 1/2 pounds pork butt

2 teaspoons New Mexican green chile powder (optional)

— Kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

3-6 serranos, roasted, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

7 poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch wide crosswise strips

6-8 large garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and chopped

— Black pepper in a mill

Set the pork on a work surface and rub the green chile powder, if using, all over it. Season generously with salt and rub the salt into the meat for several seconds. Set aside.

Wash your hands thoroughly so that you don’t accidental transfer the heat of the chile powder to your eyes or other sensitive area.

Prepare a slow cooker and heat 8 cups of water.

Pour the olive oil into a heavy sauté pan set over high heat and when the pan is hot, add the meat and sear on one side for 90 seconds. Turn and sear for 90 seconds on the other side. Sear all raw edges for 90 seconds each so that the meat is evenly browned all over.

Transfer the meat to a plate or other container.

Turn the heat under the pan to medium, add the onions and sauté, turning frequently, for about 5 minutes, until they just begin to turn limp. Season with salt, transfer to the slow cooker and set the meat on top.

Add the serranos, bay leaf, half the poblanos and enough water to just cover the meat. If you need more, heat the water to boiling.

Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 3 hours, until the meat is fully tender but not completely falling apart.

After the meat has been cooking for 2 hours, add the remaining poblanos and the garlic and continue to cook until done, as described above.

Serving suggestions:

Remove the meat from its liquid, let cool, chop into chunks, return to the pot and serve as a soup, topped with chopped cilantro.

Remove the meat from its liquid, let cool, chop into chunks and set aside. Serve the cooking liquid as a soup, topped with chopped cilantro and with lime wedges alongside. Serve the meat with hot corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, minced white onion and chopped cilantro.

To serve as posole verde, remove the meat from its liquid, let cool, chop into chunks and return to the pot, along with a 28-ounce can of hominy, drained. Cook on high for 45 minutes and then serve, with hot corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, minced white onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges alongside.

Remove the meat from its liquid, let cool, chop into small chunks and set aside. Peel and dice 3 to 4 medium potatoes (for a total of 6 cups), add to the cooking liquid, increase heat to high and cook for about 35 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Let the soup cool, puree thoroughly with an immersion blender and heat through. Divide the meat into individual soup bowls, ladle soup over it, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and a shower of chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

After the meat has been cooking for 2 hours, add the remaining poblanos and the garlic and continue to cook until done, as described above.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Salt & Pepper.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

Show Comment