Santiago’s Green Chili

Smothered BurritoWell, I finally did it. I cracked the code! If you crave the style of green chili you’ll find on smothered burritos throughout Denver and the rest of Colorado, this is a recipe you’ll want to bookmark. This is a very thin chili that contains little to no meat, which is quite different from a traditional chunky Chili Verde. If you’ve ever eaten at Santiago’s, Alberto’s or Chubby’s, you’ll know what to expect from this recipe. Unfortunately, this is not an exact science, so it will take a little trial and error with each batch to get it the way you want it.

20 cups water
2 bone-in pork chops
26 ounces roasted chopped green chilies
2 cloves minced garlic
5 oz tomato purée
2 tablespoons bacon grease
2 teaspoon salt

A word about the chilies: If you can, get Hatch… Or at least something from New Mexico, or perhaps Arizona. If you can’t, avoid the canned stuff at all costs. That strange preservative they’re floating in (brine?) just kills the flavor. Find some Bueno frozen chilies if you can’t get the good stuff. Hot, mild, or mixed… The choice is yours. I’m able to find hot enough chilies that I don’t need to add jalapeños to the mix.

Simmer pork chops until the meat is completely falling apart. This should take 2-3 hours. Liquid should reduce to 12 cups. If you don’t have a stock pot large enough to accommodate this, you may need to go back and add water from time-to-time to end up with 12 cups at the end.

Remove the meat and feed it to the dog.

Add everything else and simmer for 2 hours. Attack the chili with a stick blender to get it smooth.

At this point you’ll want to decide if it’s thick enough for you. If it’s not you can either keep reducing or use a cornstarch slurry to thicken it up. Beware of reducing, though… It doesn’t thicken up that much and you may have to adjust other ingredients down to avoid too intense a flavor. Particularly, the salt.

Notice the lack of meat? If you want meat in your chili, I wouldn’t recommend using the removed pork chops. The fact is, it’s been hammered by simmering water for hours, and it’s just going to turn into pork shavings when you break it up in the chili. Instead, cube some pork, brown it, and throw it in with about an hour to go.

If you know of a recipe that better imitates the ones found at those restaurants, please post them in the comments below. I’m always open to trying something new.

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12 Responses

  1. Michael Pavelec says:

    Right on man, thanks! I’m living in south Texas, Port Aransas and neither Mexican restaurants here serve that – I miss Denver especially for Santiagos and Chubbys – the hotter the better! Have hatch chili in the freezer from last summer, will try this recipe tomorrow

  2. Adam Allen says:

    Santiago’s breakfast burritos are hands down the best known to man! I’m in okc and consider often, flying to Denver just for breakfast! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Nicole says:

    You did do it!!! I made it tonight and I’m soooooo HAPPY!!!! This is it! Thank you so much for posting.

  4. Molly says:

    YUM! Just made it tonight in the crock pot. My husband is a green chili snob and when I told him I was going to try to make it on my own for the first time he was very hesitant. When he tried it, he said this was the BEST green chili he has ever tasted and way better than his. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  5. greggo4734 says:

    I have modified those slightly I use pork neck bones in stead of pork chops for flavor every one knows the flavor is in the bones. For added meat I tried ground pork about 1.5 pounds and I also threw in 2 cans of petite dices tom a tomatoes and backed away slightly from the puree I throw a little flower in ground pork while browning this is good as a browner and thickening with out all the starchy flavor and flour flavor. I am open to suggestions but I believe I have perfected this

  6. AirIck says:

    I scoffed at this when I first read it as “too simple to be even close” and was shocked to find out that you are really on the money here. Your idea is the flavor profile I’ve been missing so badly. The bacon fat is key and I wonder if a Chubby’s or Santiago’s actually uses pork fat that turns smoky from making things like carnitas. The hand blender is also key in getting thickness without too much flour or cornstarch. Thanks for posting- you are helping me (immensely) recreate something I’ve been trying to figure out for ages.

  7. Don Splawn says:

    I will try 20 cups of beer , forget the water.(just for fun)

  8. Melissa says:

    Thank you!!! I thought I had a decent green chile recipe, but I won’t be making it ever again. This is SO GOOD. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m taking it with me to Austin in a few weeks for former Denverites who miss good green chile.

  9. mike says:

    Cheers buddy came over from the uk an fell in love with chubby’s can’t get anything anywhere near here. Will have to fire roast my own chillies but gotta be worth it.

  10. John says:

    Mexican food east of Colorado is awful. Lived in Denver for 40 years, moved to Georgia, and can’t find good Mexican food anywhere. Can’t find frozen
    chilies either. I have friends send me Hatch’s frozen chilies they get at KIng Soopers often. I think the stock is the secret. I use 3-5 lbs of pork bones,
    salt/pepper, floured and quick fried in a little lard. Add water, Simmer 1 1/2 hrs. Remove bones . Add other ingredients to your liking. If you look
    at the Santiagos ingendients, they are , water, jalapeno peppers, green chiles, pork, tomato puree and lard, flour and garlic salt. Good luck and keep

  11. Made this yesterday and made breakfast burritos this morning. That smoky-bacon flavor is definitely what my green chili was missing. I use dynamite Hatch chilis, so my chili is extra hot! Thank you for figuring out this recipe.

  12. Kim says:

    Right on, Heavy Doody! Just made his today. If this isn’t “it”, then it’s awfully close. I. grew up in Denver, but live in Mn. When I get back, chubbys is my first stop. Nothing like Santigos, Chubby’s, et al.

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