Green Pork Chilli (with grain free tacos)

It’s time to try something new. If what you came here for is a verdant twist on your Mexican chilli; sprightly with tomatillo, coriander and the warmth of orange and jalapeno, skip straight to the bottom for the recipe. If you have the bandwidth to procrastinate with an origin story, read on.

I’ve resisted settling into a stable repertoire of dishes. I may have reverted to a sartorial uniform of sorts (it seems that here by the beach, yoga attire is perfectly acceptable everyday, whether you’ve done your asanas or not- shhhh), but when it came to food I held firm.  This was not going to be a house constrained by the culinary bed-death of routine; Tuesday: grilled salmon, Wednesday: pasta , Thursday: chicken curry, Friday: pizza and Sunday lamb roast. Granted, we may not pack our bags and skittle across the sky as often as we once did, but surely we can still escape elsewhere (for a while) from the confines of our kitchen.

A month or so ago an old friend asked after hearing about our plans to renovate (coming soon!) and commit further to the area whether I felt trapped. No. I did not suddenly wake up one day in a panic bleating ‘this is not my beautiful life’.

Yet where did the years go? In a few days Will will be two. TWO. He can name all the parts of his face, express a preference for animals that roar and fish with fins, dance like a gypsy and heartily believes that the other attendees at his music class are there as his own personal backup dancers. Many of the previous 724 days have  felt eye twitchingly long, but the years have been deceptively short. And before  you know it,  as much as I’ve paid lip service to the alternatives, we’ve nestled into a routine – particularly when it comes to escape.

I’m talking mainly about our emergency margarita night. The basis of it is something that I now have on hand at all times. It’s usually a casual melding of beef and pork mince, chipotle chilli, tomato, onion, a touch of dark chocolate and sometimes some sweet potato for additional padding. I make it in outrageous bulk and stash it in the freezer in 2 cup portions, where it can be extracted post haste on dire days. Most often it finds its way into nachos, with either heftily priced organic corn chips encircling it as a crown, or beet chips, molten mozzarella, some feta or goat cheese for piquancy and a chunky thwack of guacamole. The Hungry One is in charge of drinks.

 It’s what I turn to when I haven’t had enough sleep the night prior. When I commit a social faux pas. When I want to press rewind and start the day again. It’s called on when you intend on going out to dinner with your girlfriends, but another questionable cough descends and keeps you housebound (aka last friday night). It’s usually when I need to pretend from the constrains of my couch that I’ve run away to Tulum.

Yet it’s time to shake things up a little bit. As delicious as it is, it’s getting too predictable for my comfort. It’s time to say stop to the red chilli and go to the green.

Enter; a novel alternative with the jewel tones of emerald. The mild acidity of tinned tomatillos adds a sprightly tang, while the richness of the pork unfurls after a few hours in the pot (or 45 minutes in a pressure cooker) into chubby threads.

The sauce of this chilli verde is thickened with ground toasted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds and given a smokey undernote by charring a banana chilli. 

It works beautifully against paleo style white cabbage tacos, but also happily plays along if you’re more comfortable shifting things  one step at a time and feel the urge to return to the cheesey comfort of nachos.  As for the margaritas on the side? Essential.

Serves 6


1 kg pork shoulder, diced into pieces the size of a pack of playing cards
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil

Green sauce
1 x 800 g tin of tomatillos, drained
Juice of 1 orange, plus half of the zest, grated
100 g pumpkin seeds
20 g sesame seeds
1 bunch of coriander
1 green pepper/banana chilli
1 brown onion, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp jalapenos (plus extra to serve)

To serve
Green cabbage leaves (as grain free tacos), or corn tortillas
Ripe sliced avocado
Slivered red onion
Cooked quinoa

Here’s how we roll

 1) Toss the pork pieces in the spices. Add half of the olive oil to the base of a heavy bottom pan and brown in batches, to gain a good colour over all edges of the meat.

2) Place the pumpkin and sesame seeds in a dry fry pan and over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until they smell nutty. Set aside to cool. 

3)  Place the banana chilli directly over the gas (or under a grill) and toast until it is charred all over.

4) To make the chilli sauce combine all of the ingredients (including the toasted seeds)  in a food processor or blender.

5) Blitz to combine until you have a rustic puree.

6) Combine the sauce with the browned meat in a Dutch oven or a pressure cooker. If cooking in a Dutch oven, cook with the lid off on a gentle simmer for 3-4 hours, until the sauce has reduced and the meat forks apart.

If cooking in a pressure cooker, cook for 45 minutes, remove the meat and shred with forks. Reduce the sauce in a saucepan with the lid off for 15-20 minutes until thick and toss the shredded meat with the thickened sauce. Season with salt and chilli to taste.

7) Use the chilli in nachos, enchiladas or burritos, or eat it as part of grain free tacos with quinoa, slivered red onion, some sour cream, avocado and lime on trimmed leaves of white cabbage.


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