So versatile and so delicious, this slow cooker sweet tomatillo chipotle pork is simple and flavorful. Serve over rice or use the tasty pork in burritos, enchiladas, or on a salad. The options are endless!
This slow cooker sweet tomatillo chipotle pork has become my secret weapon meal. I’ve easily made it a dozen times in the last month or so.
Why, you ask? That’s a great question considering I have about a million other recipes calling my name. Besides wanting to really perfect the recipe for the slow cooker, the main reason is because it is insanely delicious. And easy enough for a weeknight. And perfect for company (which it seems we’ve had a lot of the last little while, and I love it – I could totally open a bed and breakfast, and my life would be complete).
It’s honestly so versatile and so tasty, you’ll be wanting to send me your firstborn child to say thank you. (But please reconsider, and send me chocolate instead.)
One of the keys to this sweet tomatillo chipotle pork recipe is…well, tomatillos. I love tomatillos in so many things but I now seek them out just for this recipe (thankfully, they are super duper easy to find in my very average grocery store).
Plus, removing those papery skins and revealing the slightly tacky-feeling fruit (veg?) underneath is very rewarding. And by rewarding, I mean, it’s rewarding to see my kids tackle that job.
To better understand the flavor profile of this pork, think of it as tender, juicy pork with a lightly sweet and slightly spicy (but not overly so) green salsa-ish vibe.
Most often, I serve this over rice, because it’s so easy. But since the leftovers of this flavorful tomatillo pork freeze amazingly well, we’ve also had it atop a crisp, green salad and in burritos with cilantro lime rice, black beans and a little bit (ok, a lot) of cheese thrown in there.
Be still my heart.
In all my experimenting, I actually made this twice in the InstantPot, and while I love that little machine to the moon and back, I prefer this pork made in the slow cooker. The ratio of sauciness to pork is just right, and I think the flavor of the long and slow cooking time makes it better.
However, I know you and your love for the ol’ pressure cooker, and so I’ve included some hints below in the notes if you want to tackle it in the IP or other pressure cooker.
A huge thank you to Jess M, a sweet MKC reader, who inspired today’s recipe. She sent me a recipe a while ago using similar flavors with chicken drumsticks, and after making it, I knew the fresh tomatillos, spicy chipotles, and hint of sweetness would be perfect with pork.
Read through the notes of the recipe for tips on different cuts of pork as well as a life-changing discovery I made in relation to chopped, canned chipotle chiles. I wanted to cry, I was so excited.
Let's talk pork roasts here. My favorite roast to use in this recipe is a pork sirloin roast that isn't quite as lean as pork tenderloin but leaner than a shoulder/butt roast. I usually buy the boneless sirloin roasts at Costco (I believe they come in a 4-pack); however, I've also made this with a sirloin roast we had in our freezer from buying half a pig and although it wasn't boneless, it was still delicious and extracting the bone after cooking (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean) was no big deal. You can experiment with other cuts of pork but my experience suggest the sirloin roast is the way to go.
About chipotle chiles, for the longest time, I'd buy the small cans of chipotle chiles, open them, scoop out what I need, and never end up using the rest (even though I've lectured all of you to freeze the remaining chiles). Recently, I stumbled upon the La Costena brand of chipotle chiles that now comes in a jar. Just like jam! Except a lot spicier. It's revolutionary and I always have a jar of these chopped chipotle chiles in my refrigerator. Keep an eye out for them if the canned chipotle chiles end up going to waste at your house, too.
You don't want small pieces of tomatillos to go into the slow cooker. Only halve the tomatillos (if they are super big, I'll let you quarter them, but no smaller than that). They will cook down quite a bit during the long cooking time.
This pork is delicious eaten over hot, cooked rice (or quinoa) but it is also very tasty as a filling in burritos, tacos, enchiladas or eaten atop a nice, crisp green salad. It also freezes very well to defrost for a later meal.
For InstantPot lovers, I've made this twice in my InstantPot (but for some reason like it just a little better in the slow cooker for flavor and liquid consistency): depending on the thickness of your roast, if it's about 3-inches thick, try cooking it 30-40 minutes high pressure, natural release.
- 3 to 5 pound pork sirloin roast (see note above for other cuts of pork)
- Coarse, kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles (see note above)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2-3 pounds tomatillos (about 20-25 tomatillos), husks removed, washed well, and cut in half (or quartered if they are large)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Hot, cooked rice for serving
- Season all sides of the pork roast with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium or medium-high heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the roast and brown on each side until golden, about 1-2 minutes each side.
- Transfer the roast to the insert of a slow cooker.
- Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and add the chopped onions to the skillet (if the skillet is very dry, add another teaspoon or so of oil). Cook the onions, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
- Stir in the brown sugar, chipotle chiles, salt, and pepper.
- Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker with the pork.
- Add the halved (or quartered) tomatillos to the slow cooker, nestling them on the sides of the pork so they aren't all piled on top, and pour in the broth.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Shred the pork (if the pork is lean and boneless, it can be done right in the slow cooker with two forks) and return it to the slow cooker, tossing it with the cooking liquid and tomatillos. Serve over hot, cooked rice (the pork filling is also delicious in burritos, tacos, on top of salad, etc.).
Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe sent to me by a wonderful reader, Jess M. (she sent a chicken drumstick recipe in a brown sugar, tomatillo and chipotle sauce) – thanks, Jess!