Perhaps no other American holiday than St. Patrick’s Day shows how we shoehorn food themes into all our big days.
I refer to the green thing. (It began with green beer, a beverage dragged kicking and screaming to its strangest possible further dimension.)
So, for this March 17, you will find eating, cooking, and dining suggestions, in no particular order, for: linguine pesto, grasshopper pie, lime gelatin, guacamole, mint chocolate chip brownies, all manner of viridescent beverage, pistachio ice cream, and anything and everything that can be made, constructed, or whipped up with spinach, kale, or avocado.
A certain WASP, Western European, even Cal-Ital partiality wends through all of these foods — save the guacamole and avocado dishes, of course. Irish people, you are off the hook; none of you ever would suggest such an atrocity as, say, the appletini.
But we live in a section of the globe that revels in another green thing, so special to us and our place in cooking that it surprises me that we hereabouts are not awash in it on March 17.
I refer to the chile pepper and its finest epiphany, chile verde. I mean, it is the near-iconic food of the State of Colorado, not to say its queen city. It has a beautiful pronunciation of “green” in its very name. Where and when did we miss the junction of it and El Día de San Patricio?
Course correction here. First course, a cup. Second course, a big bowl with steamed flour tortillas. Or a burrito the size of a teenager’s leg smothered in it. Third course — no, don’t sweeten it with anything; leave it be. Honor it.
It is our green thing.
This recipe has a righteous (albeit Anglo) lineage. It was birthed in longtime Denver Post Food Editor Helen Dollaghan’s “Denver Post Pork Green Chile,” one of her more-requested recipes (at the eight Super Bowl appearances of the Denver Broncos, there were noticeable blips in her mail), adapted to the Instant Pot by my son, Colin Francis, and tinkered on by yours truly.
There was little tinkering, to tell the truth, except at the edges of technique. The whole truth is that this former restaurant critic (12 years, both dailies, hundreds of eateries, 43 gained pounds) never has or had sampled a better pork green chile— chile verde — than his son’s.
It is delicious, delicioso, worthy of a Saint.
Instant Pot Chile Verde
Adapted by Colin and Bill St. John from a recipe created by legendary Denver Post food editor Helen Dollaghan. Serves 4
Note: The most ubiquitous chile brands on the Front Range are from Select New Mexico (which is actually a Denver-based company) and Bueno. Chiles almost always are sold as either “hot” or “mild” only. If you prefer a medium heat, buy a package of each and double the recipe. Or add some jalapeños or serranos to a mild batch. If you use fresh chiles, chop them and add at least enough broth to cover to the rest of the ingredients.
1 pound pork, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (lean pork shoulder, loin or chop)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dark chile powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, diced
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1 24-ounce package or 2 13-ounce packages frozen roasted green chiles, defrosted (or the equivalent in fresh-roasted green chiles)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 lime, halved
Sides of flour or corn tortillas, crumbled tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, shredded cheese
Set your Instant Pot to Sauté and, once hot, add oil and pork. Brown pork on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Add cumin, chile powder, oregano, garlic and onion, and stir well. Add broth, chopped chiles, tomato paste and squeeze of one half of lime. Stir well; sauté until mixture in pot just begins to bubble. Press Cancel.
Close the lid and cook on High Pressure for 25 minutes, then allow for 5 minutes Natural Release followed by a Quick Release. Open the lid and serve with the sides.
For additional chile heat: Add seeded and chopped jalapeño or serrano chiles along with the chopped and roasted green chiles in the cooking pot, or the same, fresh, seeded and finely chopped as part of the sides.
Reach Bill St John at email@example.com