Add distinctive green chili to Super Bowl spread

Football doesn’t exactly put me in the mood for fine food, not that I haven’t given it my best shot.

Last year, my husband uncharacteristically decided to watch the Super Bowl from the comfort of his own couch with only me to complete the cheering section. Because televised football can’t hold my attention for more than 10 minutes at a time — and because I’d be in the comfort of my own kitchen — I offered Will a four-course menu for the afternoon, a dish to go with each quarter.

I started with spiced, stove-top popcorn and chili-glazed cashews then moved on to sweet-potato wontons with a cilantro salad. My Asian-style, sweet-hot wings came next. Will was so stuffed that I had to save his banana-peanut butter milkshake for later.

Maybe it was because he fell asleep, but I didn’t hear much feedback on the spread — until this football season when Will started hinting around at multicourse Sunday lunches. I’ve been holding my breath against the suggestion that I repeat the exercise on a grander scale to host friends for this year’s NFL finale. But Will has come to realize that when required to feed a crowd, I’m all about make-ahead dishes that can be heated up and served buffet-style.

Meatballs are a popular item that can be made a couple of weeks ahead of time, frozen and then thawed in whatever sauce they’re to be served in. Chili, of course, is a classic dish that can be stretched with big bowls of tortilla chips and a vat of homemade guacamole.

I tend to make chili out of whatever I have on hand and usually include beans (Texans don’t have to tell me that’s not authentic). I’ve always been partial to green chili sauce and green salsas with Mexican dishes and think the following beanless recipe would elevate a Super Bowl spread. The key green ingredient, tomatillos, is a summer commodity but still should be readily available at many local grocers.

MCT photo

Green Chili (aka Mean Green Pig)

3 1⁄2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved

1⁄4 cup olive oil, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon salt, divided

2 1⁄2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

2 jalapenos, diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 poblano chilies, roasted and diced small

2 cups chicken stock

Heat oven to 400 F. Toss half of the tomatillos with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, puree remaining tomatillos in food processor and reserve 11⁄2 cups puree in a bowl. Add roasted tomatillos to processor and pulse until slightly chunky.

Season the pork with remaining salt and the pepper to taste. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and brown pork in batches. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add the onions and jalapenos to skillet and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Put onions, jalapenos, garlic, poblanos, roasted tomatillos and the chicken stock in slow cooker. Cook on low until pork is falling-apart tender, about 6 hours. Add reserved tomatillo puree to pot; stir to incorporate. (Alternately, cook chili in a Dutch oven on low until meat is tender, for 2 hours or longer.)

Serve with fresh cilantro and queso fresco.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

— Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from Everyday Food magazine.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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