Why It Works
- Adding all the ingredients to the pressure cooker with no added liquid makes for an intensely flavored stew that cooks in its own juices.
- Fish sauce adds umami depth to the dish once it's cooked.
It's a tough call, but I'm almost inclined to say that, with its tangy tomatillos and mix of fresh green peppers, I like chile verde even more than I like a bowl of Texas red. This version is packed with moist, tender chunks of braised chicken thighs in a balanced sauce that is rich with umami depth and green chile flavor, but still plenty bright and fresh. And the best part: You can make it in under half an hour. All it takes is a pressure cooker and some dumping skills.
To say I'm on a bit of a pressure cooker kick would be an understatement. I'm like a guy who just got a new power saw and can't think of enough things to cut with it. In fact, I just added a new power saw to my online shopping cart in the hopes that it'll help wean me off the pressure cooker for at least a few days.
Why the excitement? It mostly has to do with a series of recipes I've been working on that are inspired by my wife's 30-minute, five-ingredient chicken and potato stew. It's a brilliant recipe. All you do is add chicken, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and a few aromatics to a pressure cooker—without any liquid—then cook it over high pressure for about 20 minutes.
As the chicken and vegetables heat, they release a ton of liquid and end up braising in their own juices. The result is ultra-tender chicken with an intensely flavorful sauce and vegetables to go with it. In terms of flavor-to-effort ratio, I can't think of a better technique, and the best thing about it is it works with a wide variety of ingredients and vegetables. Recently, I used tomatoes, dried chiles, and cumin to make the world's fastest, easiest chicken enchiladas.
Now, we're making chili. Chile verde, to be exact. Just like my more traditional pork-based chile verde, the main flavorings here are poblano, Serrano, and Anaheim peppers (if you can get Hatch chiles, use 'em), along with tomatillos, garlic, onion, and cumin.
The process, on the other hand, is way, way simpler. Here's the first step: Dump everything into your pressure cooker.
Here's the second step: Turn the pressure cooker on. Don't worry, the hard part is over.
When you open up that pressure cooker, you should see a bubbling pot of richly flavored broth with a nice slick of chicken fat floating on the top and very, very soft vegetables. All that's left to do is remove that chicken and set it aside until it's easy to shred. (If you want to make this even easier, go ahead and use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You'll lose a bit of flavor, but the dish becomes nearly effortless.)
Once the chicken is out, purée the broth and vegetables with an immersion blender or a countertop blender until smooth, adding a handful of cilantro leaves and a big dash of fish sauce in the process. The former adds freshness to what has become a very richly flavored sauce in the pressure cooker while the latter adds more umami depth. Don't worry, your sauce will not taste like fish. I promise you.
Just like with those enchiladas and the Colombian chicken stew, I wondered if flavor could be improved with a few minor extra steps like sautéing the aromatics before adding the pressure, but surprisingly, the difference is extremely minimal. The high heat of a pressure cooker does a pretty great job of creating complex flavors while the vapor-tight seal means that everything that comes out of those vegetables and chicken stays in the pot, exactly where you want it.
I serve up the chile verde with some warm corn tortillas, limes, and whole cilantro sprigs artfully and meticulously arranged on my table to look like they accidentally just fell there. I do this because it makes the photos look better and when I have better looking photos, I get more folks to share and read my stories. This in turn leads to more people cooking great recipes at home, which in turn makes the world a better place.
That's right, you stray garnish police! We're making the world a better place, one haphazardly strewn cilantro sprig at a time.
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 pound poblano peppers, roughly chopped, seeds and stems discarded (about 3 peppers)
12 ounces tomatillos, husks discarded, quartered (about 4 tomatillos)
10 ounces white onion, roughly chopped (about 1 medium)
6 ounces Anaheim or Cubanelle peppers, roughly chopped, seeds and stems discarded (about 2 peppers)
2 Serrano or jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped, stems discarded
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce, such as Red Boat
Fresh corn tortillas and lime wedges, for serving
Combine chicken, poblano peppers, tomatillos, onion, Anaheim peppers, Serrano peppers, garlic, cumin, and a big pinch of salt in a pressure cooker. Heat over high heat until gently sizzling, then seal pressure cooker, bring to high pressure, and cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure.
Using tongs, transfer chicken pieces to a bowl and set aside. Add cilantro and fish sauce to remaining contents of pressure cooker. Blend with an immersion blender or in a countertop blender and season to taste with salt. Return chicken to sauce, discarding skin and bones and shredding if desired.
Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately with tortillas and lime wedges.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 33g||42%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 23g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 97mg||484%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|