This Instant Pot pulled pork chile verde is made by pressure cooking pieces of pork shoulder in a delicious homemade chile salsa verde made with roasted green chiles, tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro. Serve alone, as tacos or top french fries to make carnitas fries. Got leftovers? Find leftover pulled pork recipes here. Sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture through Kitchen PLAY.
Comfort food evokes different responses depending on who you ask. For my family and I, we love so many varieties of foods. One of our favorite comfort foods is pulled pork. My husband makes an awesome smoked pulled pork roast on the grill. When we don’t feel like grilling, I make crispy oven pulled pork indoors.
Here in San Diego, we have an amazing selection of Mexican food. And the Mexican version of pulled pork is carnitas. Today I am sharing how to make carnitas in the Instant Pot with a very dreamy New Mexico green chile salsa verde. Totally delicious comfort food.
Best cut of meat for pulled pork
If you are making pulled pork/carnitas, you have several choices in meat cuts. The most common choice is the pork shoulder. Another popular cut of meat for pulled pork is a Boston butt. Despite what its name suggests, this cut is from the high part of the pig’s shoulder, above the shoulder blade, and not from the actual butt of the pig.
The picnic shoulder, or picnic ham, is the shoulder cut with the shank attached. This cut is cheaper than the other cuts because it requires less work butchering it, but it contains more bone.
You can use any of these cuts of meat for this recipe. Because we are using a pressure cooker, the roast will need to be cut into smaller pieces. But, don’t cut them too small. You want large chunks of meat, about 4-5 inches long, including any meat that is still on the bone. Once prepared in the instant pot, the meat will be fall apart tender which can be easily shredded.
Green chile pork carnitas
Carnitas in Spanish translates to “little meats” and is a quintessential pork dish in Mexican cuisine. Its origins are from the state of Michoacan, but it is now prepared everywhere and in a number of different ways. Carnitas is typically slowly braised or roasted for several hours, but it can also be prepared more quickly in a pressure cooker.
Once cooked, carnitas can be served alone or it can be used as an ingredient for tamales, tacos, burritos, nachos or quesadillas. You can learn more about the origins of carnitas here. My version of carnitas is cooking a pork roast in salsa verde using the Instant Pot.
About green chile peppers
Since the key to this dish is the salsa verde, you want to use the most flavorful ingredients you can find. And some of the best chile peppers I have ever cooked with and eaten are from New Mexico. People commonly know New Mexico green chile peppers as Hatch Chiles. What makes them so special?
New Mexico provides the perfect climate and soil for growing chile peppers. Oh, and let’s get this straight. It’s a CHILE pepper NOT a CHILI pepper. Think of growing chile peppers like growing grapes for wine making. Soil and climate will alter the flavor of the grapes. The same is true with chile peppers.
Have you heard of the Anaheim pepper? Well, the Anaheim Pepper is a transplanted New Mexico pepper brought to Anaheim, California by Emilio Ortega. And because it is grown in Anaheim, California and not New Mexico, the flavor is very different.
August is peak New Mexico green chile season. And here in California that means chile roasts at the grocery store. If you have never been to a chile roast, the smell is incredible! Even if your local store doesn’t roast chile peppers, you can easily roast them at home.
For the salsa verde used in this recipe, I roast the chile peppers in the oven, under the broiler. You can also grill them or char them on a pan on the stove.
Every August I do my best to get a supply of New Mexico green chile peppers. If I am lucky, I get a case! What do I do with all of those chile peppers? Well, if they aren’t already roasted, I roast them. Once roasted, I use the chile peppers in everything, from chile corn dip to chile chocolate chip cookies!
And the chile peppers that I don’t use right away, I pack into freezer safe sealable bags and freeze them. The frozen chile peppers will last you until NEXT chile season! Whether you are using them right away or freezing them for later use, remember to peel off the tough outer skin of the green chile. They slide off very easily once the chile is roasted.
Not only are chile peppers delicious, they come in a variety of heat indexes like mild, medium and hot. The chile is also a nutrient dense food. It naturally contains calcium, iron and many vitamins.
Don’t let the green color fool you. Red chile peppers are just mature green chile peppers. Red chile peppers are a bit more sweet than their green counterparts and contain the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Green chile salsa verde
The green chile salsa verde you make in this recipe is good for cooking meats in, as well as a fabulous salsa for dipping. That is why I have you reserve a cup of it to serve with your meal. But the first step is to roast the vegetables.
The chile peppers, tomatillos and onions are placed on a baking sheet and cooked under the broiler for about 8-10 minutes, flipping the vegetables halfway. The roasting not only chars the peppers, but it also caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables.
This roasting process produces a very flavorful salsa verde.
You can freeze salsa verde. Pour the puréed salsa verde into a freezer safe sealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing. Place the bag in the freezer.
Thaw completely before using. Salsa verde will last 3 to 4 months. Salsa verde will last in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
How to cook carnitas in the Instant Pot
While the vegetables are cooling off from roasting, I prepare the meat for the Instant Pot. I am using a bone-in pork shoulder roast. I am not cooking this beast whole. I need to cut it up first.
As I mentioned before, you do not want to cut the roast into small pieces or else they will overcook in the Instant Pot. The chunks should be about 4-5 inches long. You will also need to cut the large deposits of fat on the meat.
The fat that is marbled throughout the meat provides tremendous flavor and moisture to the pork while it cooks. But the big chunks of fat will only make your meal greasy. So cut off what you can without being overly picky about it.
The liquid left after the cooking process is very liquidy and fatty. If you want to keep it, I suggest cooling it off then refrigerating it. Then the fat will float to the top and solidify, making it easier to remove.
I pour a bit of the liquid over the final shredded carnitas for flavor and moisture then discard the rest. I like to use the reserved salsa verde for extra flavor.
How to make crispy carnitas
My family and I do like our pulled pork crispy. Whether you prepare the carnitas in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, the result is far from crispy. So, I choose the added step of crisping up the meat.
Spread a layer of shredded pork on a baking sheet drizzled with a little bit of cooking liquid, about 1/4-cup. Place it under the broiler about 4-6 inches from the cooking element and cook for 5 minutes.
Using long handled tongs flip over and mix up the meat, spreading it out again. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until done to your personal preference. For the 8-pound roast I used, I needed to divide this process into two batches.
What are carnitas fries?
Every city is famous for something culinary and San Diego is no different. We are not only the home of California Mex, but also the birthplace of carne asada fries. Have you never heard of carne asada fries? Well, let me educate you!
Crispy french fries are topped with seasoned steak, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Think nachos but instead of chips we are using fries.
These carnitas fries are a twist on this San Diego classic. The carnitas and salsa verde were amazing over the fries and my kids were over the moon when I gave it to them for dinner!
If you do not to serve your carnitas over fries, feel free to try them in tacos, nachos or stuff them in a burrito. Total comfort food.
- 5 New Mexico green chile peppers
- 8 tomatillos, peeled
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 7-8 lb bone-in pork shoulder
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp salt
- Peel the tomatillos and clean with water to remove the stickiness. Pat dry.
- Place the tomatillos, chile peppers and onion on the baking sheet and coat with olive oil.
- Place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Flip vegetables over and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes until charred, but not burnt.
- Remove from the oven and cover chile peppers with aluminum foil. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, trim any excess fat on the exterior of the pork roast.
- Cut pork into smaller pieces about 4-5 inches long and then place it in the Instant Pot.
- Uncover and remove skin from the chile peppers. Remove the seeds if you don't want your dish too spicy.
- Add the broiled vegetables into a large blender with cilantro, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Reserve about 1-cup of chile verde and pour remainder over pork. Coat all the pork pieces with sauce.
- Cover pressure cooker and secure the lid then set for 75 minutes high pressure. Make sure the vent is in sealing position.
- Let it natural pressure release for 20-30 minutes then release any remaining pressure. Open and remove the lid. Pork should be fall apart fork tender.
- Remove the pork from the pressure cooker and place it on a baking sheet. Using two forks, begin shredding the pork into bite size pieces while removing any large chunks of fat.
- For crispy pulled pork, add a single layer of shredded pork onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the liquid remaining in the Instant Pot.
- Place the baking sheet under the broiler about 4-6 inches away and cook for 5 minutes.
- Using long handled tongs mix and flip the crispy pieces over and cook under the broiler for another 2-3 minutes until crispy and not burnt.
- Serve as tacos or top french fries. Serve with reserved salsa verde, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, radishes, and/or wedges of lime.
You can use a pork shoulder, port butt or picnic roast.
If making carnitas fries, prepare french fries then place on a baking sheet. Top generously with cheese and place under the broiler until cheese is melted. Top with carnitas and any other of your favorite toppings.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 9316Total Fat: 681gSaturated Fat: 250gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 367gCholesterol: 2858mgSodium: 2745mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 740g
Disclosure: I did receive a stipend from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to develop a recipe using their green chile peppers. The story I have written is all true, and the opinions are truly mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.