Anytime we try a new restaurant, Ben Blair checks to see if there’s any kind of slow-cooked meat on the menu, because if there is, it’s a good bet that I’ll order it. I don’t know if it’s the texture, or that the meat has had a chance to soak up the salt and spices and herbs, but I inevitably love it.
Ages ago, Lindsey told me about her Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder recipe, and I was immediately on board. I’ve been begging her to share it, and today’s the day!
Here’s what Lindsey says:
I’ve been wanting to share this Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder recipe for months and months and months… maybe even two years. (Ahem.) It’s been sitting in the draft folder for long enough!
The delay seems to be that every time I make slow cooked pork shoulder with the intention of taking photos, it magically disappears. It starts with me telling my husband he can sneak a little taste. My kids think that means I’ve given blanket permission and it becomes a free-for-all. And then poof! Gone in a flash.
Making the slow cooked pork shoulder all those times has given me ample opportunity to fine tune the recipe so that it has just gotten better and better. I think this is by far the best Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder I’ve had. I’m sure the authentic Mexican chile verde is even better, but for now, this recipe is a keeper.
The sauce is comprised of Mexican-style salsa verde (made with tomatillos and green chiles), onion, ground cumin, garlic, a little brown sugar, and vinegar (the secret ingredient). The other secret ingredient is nothing more than time.
The beauty of this recipe is two-fold. First and foremost, it’s easy to make in a slow cooker, on the stove-top, in the oven, and I assume in an Instant Pot. (I don’t have one yet.) I’ve made this all three ways and the difference in taste is minimal. The stovetop and oven slow cooked pork shoulder is a tiny bit more flavorful. ; )
Second, it’s one of the most versatile big-batch recipes you can make. That means cook it once and enjoy it several times during the week or freeze in portions to use later.
If you need some ideas on how to use slow cooked pork shoulder, here is a short list: nachos, enchiladas, soup or stew, tacos, burritos or wraps, over polenta or rice, taco salad, a base for tamale pie, etc.. And the photo above shows a tostada piled high with Chile Verde Pork and a slew of toppings.
Traditional Chile Verde is a Mexican stew that uses most of the same ingredients I’ve included, but is definitely more stew-like. This slow cooker pork shoulder doesn’t have as much sauce or liquid, which makes it more versatile in that array of dishes I mentioned above. But you could add an extra bottle of sauce, plus some chicken broth, and turn it into stew, if desired.
How To Make Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder
The cut of pork used makes a big difference with slow cooking. The leaner cuts, like pork loin, dry out too quickly and that long cooking time doesn’t help. So I tend to use a shoulder roast because it has more marbling and ends up super juicy and flavorful.
Tomatillo salsa is my favorite salsa of all. I could drink (and I have) the green salsa from Trader Joe’s. It’s very mild, so it’s super kid-friendly, and has great flavor. I also recommend Frontera, Herdez, La Costeña, or LaVictoria. There are others, but these are the brands most readily available in grocery stores.
Frontera is probably my very favorite because it tastes almost the same as my favorite simmered tomatillo serrano chile sauce recipe from Frontera’s founder, Rick Bayless. It’s just incredible. I’ll link to the recipe in the notes.
Talk to me about green chiles. Are you a lover or a hater? Does it depend on how spicy the green chiles are? I’m 100% on board with them. I think my family may even be a little tired of me adding them to so many recipes, but I’m not tired of it. No, never!
Bottled, canned, or fresh green chiles can be used interchangeably in this recipe. The canned or bottled are super easy and taste great. Fresh takes a bit more effort, and even more so if you go the extra mile and roast them first. In the summertime/early fall when Hatch chiles are available, I stock up and freeze them to use during the rest of the year. Trader Joe’s also usually carries frozen fire-roasted Hatch chiles. It’s all about how spicy you want to go.
I experimented with adding vinegar and bay leaves to the green chile pork after looking at other slow cooker recipes for pork roast. I’m not exactly sure what the science is behind the vinegar, but it really makes a difference. The pork doesn’t end up tasting vinegary at all. The bay leaves add another layer of flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you’ll miss if it’s not there. I sometimes add brown sugar depending on how I’ll be using the pork. I recommend adding it the first time you make it and see what you think.
Tostadas with Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder
- 6 corn tostadas (see recipe note)
- 28 ounce can black or pinto beans, drained, or refried beans
- 1 1/2 pounds Chile Verde Pulled Pork Shoulder
- 1/2 cup cotija, queso fresco, or other Mexican cheese, crumbled or shredded
- 1 bag coleslaw mix combined with 1/4 cup each: sour cream and mayo or Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon each: honey or other sweetener and apple cider or white vinegar, and a pinch of salt
- Other topping ideas: roasted corn salad (see notes), avocado, tomato, quick-pickled red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream or Mexican crema, sliced green chiles, etc.
1. If desired, heat tostadas briefly in a hot oven to crisp them up a bit more. Otherwise, place the tostadas on serving plates.
2. Layer the following onto each tostada:
-1/3 to 1/2 cup whole or refried beans
-1/4 pound Chile Verde Pulled Pork
-1/4 -1/2 cup prepared coleslaw
-1-2 tablespoons crumbled or shredded cheese
-Any other toppings
3. Serve immediately.
-Use store-bought or make your own by lightly coating corn tortillas with oil and baking in a 425°F oven for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
-To make the corn salad, preheat oven broiler. Place 4 cups fresh or frozen corn, 1/2 cup diced red onion, and 1/2 cup fresh or canned diced green chiles on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Broil for 3-4 minutes if using frozen corn, or 2-3 minutes for fresh corn. Remove pan from oven and turn everything over and broil again for 3-4 minutes or until corn has blackened in spots and smells toasty. Transfer to a bowl and season well with salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a big pinch each: ground cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Serve warm or cold.
Chile Verde Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 4 pound pork shoulder roast
- 16 ounces salsa verde, store-bought or homemade
- 7 ounce can chopped green chiles (fire-roasted; mild, medium, or hot)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider or distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt, to taste
SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS
- Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let heat for 10-15 seconds. Sear the pork shoulder in the hot pan on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in slow cooker.
- Add onion and garlic cloves to the skillet. If needed, add a little more oil or water to prevent burning. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the ground cumin and allow to toast for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Add the salsa verde, green chiles, vinegar, brown sugar (if using), and bay leaf. Stir well and add salt to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the pork shoulder and cover with lid. Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours.
- When pork is tender, use two forks to pull the pork apart into shreds. Use immediately or store in fridge in airtight container for up to 5 days. Shredded pork can also be frozen for several months in a freezer-proof container.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large Dutch oven with tight fitting lid, heat olive oil. Add pork shoulder and sear well on all sides, about 3-5 minutes each. Remove pork from Dutch oven and set in a bowl or on a plate.
- Add a little more oil and onion to the Dutch oven. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and ground cumin. Cook for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Remove from heat and add the pork roast back to the pot. Pour the salsa over the top, followed by the green chiles, vinegar, and brown sugar, if using. Tuck the bay leaf down into the liquid and sprinkle well with salt.
- Place lid on top and put in the oven. Cook for 60-75 minutes. Remove from oven. Take off lid and stir well. Place back in oven with the lid off and continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender and falling apart and the liquid has thickened a little.
- Using two forks, shred the pork. Stir well, cover again, and let stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the chicken to absorb some of the sauce.
- Use as desired or cool and store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to several months.
Oh my goodness, Lindsey. This looks so good. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you. And hey Dear Readers, if you get a chance to try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it goes. I’m especially curious if you prefer it with or without the sugar.
Photos and recipe by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.