Crock Pot Tomatillo Chili


Doesn’t that look amazing??

Because it is.

I made it three weeks ago and have craved it ever since.  If I can make it through writing this post without tossing down my computer, running to the store, and turning on the crock pot, it’s going to be a miracle.

And I owe it all to you guys.

Yup – if it weren’t for you, I would have never found this recipe.

When I blogged about my roast angsts a few weeks back, several of you offered great advice.  And, in particular, both Holly and Chelle recommended the cookbook Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen.  I Amazoned it: 200 thoroughly tested Crock-Pot recipes from a completely unbiased test kitchen (The Consumer Reports of cooking).  It sounded fascinating, so I ordered it immediately.

And I was not disappointed.

I spent a long morning sitting by the baby pool drooling on all the photos and post-it-note flagging every other recipe, but there was one recipe that I knew was absolutely meant for me.

Tomatillo Chili with Pork and Hominy.

I have a slight obsession with Tomatillos, but rarely see any recipes calling for them other than salsas.  And I love chili.  Plus, cilantro!  And even though it listed two items that I wasn’t even sure what they were (hominy and tapioca), I managed to find them with only a little bit of humiliating grocery store ignorance.

One disclaimer: This is not a toss-it-all-into-the-slow-cooker in three minutes type of recipe – it needs about 30 minutes of prep time.  So if you’re looking for a zero prep meal, this isn’t it.  But if you’re looking for THE BEST THING YOU EVER ATE OUT OF A CROCK-POT, this is most absolutely it.

So, here’s the recipe.

(And yes, I did get permission from America’s Test Kitchen to share this.  Thanks, guys!)


1 1/2 lbs Tomatillos (16-20), husks and stems removed, rinsed well, dried and halved.
1 Onion, cut into chunks
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tbsp Minced Fresh Oregano or 1 tsp of dried Oregano (I couldn’t find fresh, so I went with dried)
1 tsp Ground Cumin
Pinch Ground Cloves
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 15 oz. cans White or Yellow Hominy, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3 Poblano Chiles, stemmed seeded and minced
3 tbsp Minute Tapioca
2 tsp Sugar
2 Bay Leaves
4 lb Boneless Pork Butt Roast, trimmed and cut into 1.5 inch chunks (I got my grocery store butcher to cut mine into 1 inch chunks – I always like chunks smaller than recipes recommend.)
1/4 c Minced Fresh Cilantro


Put an oven rack 6 inches from your broiler element, set your oven on broil.

I already mentioned the husking, stemming, rinsing, drying and halving of tomatillos.  If you’re not sure what they are, they’re kinda hybrids between tomatoes and peppers:

Husking them can be very copacetic, and also creates a pretty pile of Tinkerbell outfits.  Bonus!


So.  Toss the tomatillos with the onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and oil.


Spread them onto an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet, and broil them until the vegetables are blackened and begin to soften (around 10 minutes).  Rotate the pan halfway through broiling.


Let the vegetables cool slightly, then pulse them, along with their juices, in the food processor until almost smooth.  Dump into your slow cooker.

Next it’s time for mystery ingredient number one, hominy.  I’m still not sure exactly what it is, but according to Wikipedia, it’s definition is “dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.”

Yummy.  Sounds organic.

At any rate, this is what hominy looks like:


Stir the hominy, broth, poblanos, tapioca, sugar, and bay leaves into slow cooker.


(By the way, Wikipedia has an explanation for tapioca, too: it’s “a starch extracted from cassava.”  This is turning into the most educational recipe ever.)

Season the pork with salt and pepper, and nestle (yes! The recipe actually says “nestle!”) into slow cooker.


Cover and cook until pork is tender: 9-11 hours on low, or 5-7 hours on high (I went with high for about 6 hours – my preparations are never 9-11 hours ahead of time.)


Let the chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from the surface using a large spoon (I always find this process very therapeutic as well.)  Discard bay leaves.  Stir in cilantro, then season with salt and pepper to taste (it was a lot for me) and serve.


I wish you could see the falling-apart tenderness of that pork.  It was magical.

And the hominy?  I had no idea that I was such a hominy fan.  It’s the most tasty alkalied nixtamalizationed product ever.

We’re a fan of mix-ins for chili and soup, so we also added the following table accessories:

  • Sour Cream (Oh my GOODNESS it was a wonderful addition)
  • Shredded Cheese (Chris liked it, but I thought it was an unnecessary addition of calories)
  • Tortilla chips, for crunch and for scooping (a very nice touch, if I may say so myself)

So. I expect all of you to cook this next week – you, your spouse, and your progeny will all thank me with vast amounts of sentimental, grateful weeping.

Edited to add: Since we count calories, I added up all of the ingredients and divided by 8 servings (which is just about exactly what it turned out to be), and there are 477 calories per serving in this dish.

29 thoughts on “My New Favorite Meal.

  1. You live in Alabama and you’ve never heard of hominy?! I always thought it was a (deep South) Southern thing. My grandma would sometimes cook it, and I always loved it as a kid. I haven’t had it in ages though, I guess it’s not exactly a common ingredient! The chili looks really good, though. I’ll have to try it sometime.

  2. Wow! I am so happy that I stumbled across this! I decided to plant tomatillos this spring, though I had very little experience with them. I had only ever tasted the tiny yummy sweet ones, but i grew very large purple ones. I am clueless as to what to do with these, as I don’t really enjoy them raw (my son does, though). I am SO looking forward to trying this (sans pork). Thank you!

    1. Oh great!! I bet they’re amazing fresh. Would you substitute another meat or make it vegetarian? Let me know how it is – I’d love to hear variations on it!

  3. Sounds divine! Maybe I need that book. I have a hard time finding crock pot recipes that can cook for 9+ hours, and everything I try comes out too mushy. I don’t cook enough to get a programmable one, though. I’m supposed to be at work from 8-5. I’d have to get up really early, but I think I could make it work, knowing it has your endorsement!

    1. Laura – you could get a separate timer that plugs into the wall, and you just plug your slow cooker into it. Would turn on automatically for you then!

    2. This book has a LOT of long-timed recipes in it – I think you’d like it if that’s what you’re looking for!

      Also, another reader commented on your comment and said this:

      “Laura – you could get a separate timer that plugs into the wall, and you just plug your slow cooker into it. Would turn on automatically for you then!”

      …which is a great idea! We use those for Christmas lights.

  4. I think I am going to have to try this! I’m always looking for new soup recipes, and I love tomatillos too. It’s going on my Pinterest!

  5. Wow, that looks pretty good but it also looks like something my family would turn up their noses at. :P I really need to work on getting them to try new things. I blame my husband. He is SOO picky that it affects the girls. I doubt I could get him to eat something with tomatillos or hominy. If he didn’t grow up with it he’s not going to eat it. I have to slowly work new foods into our lives. The combination of two new ingredients, along with the tapioca would definitely send him over the edge. Haha :)

  6. sounds very yummy. i use blended hominy as a thickener in my white chili. but i’ve never hardly even heard of tomatillos. and i’ve never asked a butcher to cut anything up for me. i’m afraid to ask! they always look so busy and harassed. and i’m curious, how healthy is the soup since you count calories and all?

    1. The butchers down south are pretty nice people. Except for the one who butchered another butcher not long ago. I wouldn’t ask HIM for any help. But I think he’s in jail now, so all is good again.

      But as for the calories, I’m glad you asked!! I added it all out and figured it to 477 calories per servings, assuming 8 servings in the dish (which was just about right). So not bad at all!

      1. nice! not about the butcher butchering the butcher. that’s totally freaky! perhaps i’ll have to get my courage up and ask one…

  7. That does look delicious – and quite low cal which is helpful.

    All our parents (mother, mother in law, father in law) tried really hard to get us into slow cooking, to no avail. It just didn’t fit our lifestyle in NZ and even less so here in the UK where I’m doing even less cooking and one/both of us don’t get home ’till late.

  8. Hominy… what area of the supermarket did you find that? I’m sure we have it in Canada, but I have never used! I’ve also seen tomatillos, but should give them a try. My Mom uses a wee bit of minute tapioca to thicken her pies. And you can get bigger tapioca that cooks up for pudding and my Dad calls ‘fish eyes’ :)

  9. I am sort of fascinated that you’ve never had anything with tapioca in it. Tapioca pudding if you’re old school or Bubble Tea if you’re more of a hipster. I’m way more fascinated that you, Southern gal that you are, haven’t ever had hominy. Grits are even made from hominy. Hominy is just corn that they soak in lye to remove the hull. It makes the corn get all fat and changes the texture. Welcome to fully embracing your Southern roots! That recipe sounds great. I make a really similar one that I add slices of avocado on top with sour cream, some lime juice, and some fresh cilantro on top. Thanks for sharing this one! I’ll be giving it a try this fall. Yum!

  10. I know what hominy is (always thought it was southern) and I know what tapioca is (love the pudding) but never heard of tomatillos. I will have to look and see if we have it here in Pittsburgh, PA.

    My favorite crockpot cookbook is “Fix and Forget It”. There are several of them and they are like a church cookbook, a compilation of recipes. A lot of recipes are submitted for basically the same type of thing which is great because I never have all the ingredients so I can always find something that works.

  11. I love tomatillos and the only time I use them is for salsa. This post couldn’t be more timely. I am going to make this for my in-laws when they come into town this weekend. You rock Rachel!

  12. I’m making this today (I have the book LOVE it!) and I came online to try and find the calories for it. THANK YOU for posting how many calories it is! I’m SO excited to eat this in …4.5 hours :)

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