Green Chile Stew

DSC_0114I have an overly romanticized view of New Mexico…this I know.  When I think of this state/region, I picture towering mountain ranges, deep shadowed canyons, unimaginably vast open spaces, and near perfect solitude.  While I’m sure that this fine State has such qualities, our friend Star’s stories help bring it back to reality a bit.  While it isn’t all John Carpenter’s Vampires or anything like that, the reality is quite a bit more gritty than the dream.

I am very clear that the vision in my head is a blending of my experiences in the Basin and Range and also my experiences with one dish; Green Chili Stew.  More than any other food that I ate during my Southwest American days, this dish ensnared me.  It is hot, make no mistake, but any damage incurred is worth it due to the onslaught of flavor you will experience.  The version that we make uses smoked paprika to provide just a little bit more depth to the not quite smoky taste of the roasted green chilies.  The remainder of the spices would seem understated if it weren’t for how they conspire with the blend of fats in the meats and butter.  The end result is undeniably tasty and will comfort even the most downtrodden soul.

In order to really do this dish justice, you should use the best chilies that you can find; in this case that means using Hatch Chilies.  The chilies of the Hatch Valley of New Mexico have a mythical quality to them that is well deserved.  This region plays a very important role in the development of chili horticulture in the United States.  Thanks to the tireless work of those at the University of New Mexico, the Hatch Valley produces some of the most flavorful (IMHO) long green and red chilies that exist.  Green Hatch chilies are similar to the popular Anaheim Chili, but are not mild; they have about the same or slightly less spice load than a Jalapeno.  The green chilies at at the top of the page are a variety of Hatch greens that becomes available in our area in late summer to fall.  The red chilies shown are a different Hatch variety that we grew in our green house.
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If you absolutely can not find Hatch/New Mexican chilies, you will have to used a 2/3 to 1/3 mixture of Anaheim and Poblano Chilies and then boost the heat up with either a Serrano or Fresno Chilies.  Remember, it is not the heat that is important when compared to getting a deep, complex flavor.  In order to achieve this, your chilies will need to be roasted.  You can roast them under a broiler until they are charred or roast them on a gas grill.  Make sure the outside is blackened and blistered and then let them cool before peeling and seeding.  The picture above should give you a pretty good idea on what you are after.

 

Besides the roasting and peeling of chilies, this thing goes together pretty much like a standard stew.  It always seems to take more chilies than you would think, and the amount listed in the recipe is based on some pods that were about 6 inches in length.  Make sure you don’t skimp.  Also make sure to use all three of the meats; bacon, pork, and chicken.  Cutting here and your risk losing part of the rich, balanced flavor that makes the stew so special; the fat from the pig-based meats is important in bringing out the flavor of the roast chilies.

Have a great time with this one.  It is been many years in development in our kitchen and with care is quite special. It doesn’t look like much, but a relatively small bowl of this with corn bread makes a highly satisfying and comforting meal on those cool, damp Northwest fall days.

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Green Chile Stew
 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Americana
Ingredients
  • 3-4 slices of bacon (optional, meat can be browned and seared in olive oil)
  • ~1/2 lb. boneless chicken breast or thighs chopped into ½" cubes
  • 6-8 oz boneless pork, chopped into ½" cubes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup flour (optional thickener)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 green chilies, roasted, peeled, and chopped (or more)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika (I use smoked sweet Hungarian paprika)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs. cilantro, minced
  • grated cheese (of your choice)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove, cool, and crumble. Cook chicken and pork in the bacon grease about 5 minutes over medium high heat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter, add the onions and saute until soft and translucent. Add the flour and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, continue cooking and stirring 1-2 minutes.
  3. Slowly add chicken broth, stir/whisk until smooth and thick. Add bacon, chicken, pork, all chilies, tomatoes, and cilantro. Lower heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. If you want thicker smoother soup, run chilies and tomatoes through a blender before adding to soup.
  5. Serve hot with cornbread. Garnish with grated cheese (or sour cream).

Comments

    • says

      No problem. Sorry it took so long. Pretty easy recipe, really. Hard part is getting the creen chilies. Maybe climate change will help us out there.

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