Chile verde is a terrific comfort food but is usually reserved for special occasions because it’s so elaborate and time-consuming to make. Here we cut the complexity — and long cooking time — by poaching and shredding chicken breasts, then stirring the meat into the simple yet flavorful sauce. Tangy tomatillos and mild green chiles provide the signature green color.
- 2 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
- 1 organic yellow onion
- 1¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ pound crushed tomatillos
- 2 ounces diced mild green chiles
- 1 organic cucumber
- 1 organic lime
- 4 or 5 sprigs organic fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Peeler (optional)
- Fine-toothed grater
- Large bowl
- Medium sauce pot
- Large frying pan
1. Cook the chicken.
In a medium sauce pot, add the chicken and enough water to cover by 2 inches, making sure the breasts are separated, and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until opaque and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate to cool. Reserve 1 cup chicken cooking water for the chile verde. Remove the chicken skin and discard; then, using a fork, shred the chicken. While the chicken cooks and cools, start the chile verde.
2. Prep the onion; cook the chile verde.
Peel and coarsely chop enough onion to measure 1 cup. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil until hot but not smoking.
Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, coriander, cumin, sweet paprika and granulated garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatillos, green chiles and reserved chicken cooking water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken and continue simmering until the mixture is the consistency of a thick stew, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. While the chile verde cooks, prepare the cucumber salad.
3. Make the cucumber salad.
Peel the cucumber, if desired, and trim the ends; cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut the halves lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices, then crosswise into enough ½-inch pieces to measure 3 cups.
Zest the lime and juice half, keeping the zest and juice separate; cut half into wedges for garnish. Coarsely chop the cilantro; set aside half for garnish. In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, pumpkin seeds, lime zest, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and half the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the chicken chile verde to individual bowls. Garnish with as much cucumber salad as you like and the remaining cilantro. Serve the lime wedges and remaining salad on the side.
- Measure the onion.
- Measure the cucumber.
- Juice the lime.
- Toss and season the cucumber salad.
- Add the garnishes.