MoralEats: Pork Green Chili

Local Low-Cal Zone #2

At the point where spaghetti covered in beef seasoned with sweet spices is considered “chili” (and is delicious – no debate allowed), the question of what chili is, exactly, gains some urgency, especially when you’ve got an extradimensional creature to feed. The Morales is something of a chili purist: it much prefers the meaty, gloppy paste you might use to make Frito pie or chili dogs than the more classic soup, and while it will happily consume beans in a white chili, the last time I tried putting them in a red one, I had recurring nightmares for a week.

The Chopper, who has a vested interest in my corporeal shell remaining alive beyond just sustaining the Morales, suggested we try placating it with a nice bowl of Denver’s own pork green chili. I’m told this is one of those dishes that everyone does differently, but it sounded like something the Morales would at least tolerate.


I’m told pork green chili is the kind of thing everyone makes differently, but there’s definitely some common elements – onions, hot peppers, tomatoes and spices, along with cheap cuts of seared pork, boil to form a flavorful broth that is then thickened to gloppier consistency and served in a variety of styles.

Obviously, the hot peppers give it that green color – jalapeños and serranos tend to do that. So of course, the Chopper’s family recipe uses chipotle peppers, which are deep, dark red.

Image credit: Mario Morales.


Like last time, this is fabulously easy to make. You’ll need:

  • the cheapest pork you can find – shoulder, roasts, cheap chops, whatever’s on sale – cubed into ¾-inch cubes;
  • minced white onion;
  • minced jalapeño pepper (you can seed it, too, if you’re a wimp);
  • rehydrated chopped chipotle peppers, or chipotle peppers in adobo;
  • a regular-sized tomato;
  • garlic;
  • cilantro;
  • salt;
  • black pepper;
  • water; and
  • cornstarch.

First, sear.
Get some decent heat going in a large pot – add some oil! – and sear the meat on all sides. Unless you have a giant Dutch oven or are cooking for relatively few people, you’ll have to work in batches, since overcrowding cooking surfaces prevents a good sear and makes Jesus cry. Be patient with it, too. Meat doesn’t sear right away.

Second, sear more.
Once your meat is done, throw in the other ingredients and, once again, be patient. Let things cook down.

Third, boil.
When your meat and veggies are fully cooked, pour in enough water to cover the whole shebang, bring it to a boil, cover it, and reduce to a simmer. You’ll need a good hour to two for this, but it’s worth it – good, seared pork that barely resists when you shred it is the Holy Grail here.

Fourth, thicken.
After the broth is formed, you’ll want to mix 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts cold water. (This keeps it from clumping the moment it hits the heat.) Pour this into the chili and stir, and it’ll thicken nicely. If you like yours thicker, repeat. If you do not, move on. Do not, under any circumstances, repeat it several times until you’ve basically made pork Jell-O.

Five, serve.
You can do anything with this, really. The more gelatinous consistencies can be served in a tortilla with cheese and sour cream, while the thinner ones can be poured over burritos or cheese enchiladas. The Morales’ preferred version is the above – in a bowl with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips, which add some nice crunch if you wait to put them in until after the soup is hot.

Also, if you’ve made a ton of this and have leftovers, they make some lit huevos rancheros. Scramble a few eggs, top with a dry, crumbly white cheese like cotija, and then plop down a serving of this on them, and you’ll have a warm, hearty breakfast that keeps you full for a long, long time.

Image credit: Mario Morales
Image credit: Mario Morales


A bowl of this stuff, with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips, sets you back 446 calories and 29 grams of carbs, 26 grams of fat and 23 grams of proteinThat’s a tiny amount of calories to give up for something this delicious. Even the breakfast version doesn’t crack the magic 600 calories, which means they both qualify for SkinnyLicious™ at the Cheesecake Trap House Factory, and while it’s somewhat fatty, it’s balanced out by all that filling protein.

I don’t know what the Morales will make me cook next, but be ready.

About The Morales 2 Articles
An extradimensional creature of unclear provenance, the Morales enjoys eating smoked tire rims, editing articles to within an inch of their lives, and traversing, unaided, the thin fabric of space-time. It currently inhabits the body of Mr. Morales, McQuaid Jesuit's Latin teacher.


  1. I don’t think qualifying for SkinnyLicious™ at the Cheesecake Factory really counts as being truly SkinnyLicious™, as the Cheesecake Factory’s standards are pretty low. Not as low as mine, but still low.

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