Sunday, August 23, 2009

Colorado Green Chili

One of my favorite parts of August in Colorado is when the chile roasters start popping up everywhere. Most often, these large wire mesh roasters are stationed in empty lots and street corners over a roaring fire. The smell is divine as the Hatch green chiles, newly arrived from Hatch, NM and other towns in New Mexico and south-western Colorado, turn in the fire. The skin chars for easy removal, the peppers get smoky, and it smells like the turning of a season.

Earlier this week, I picked up some of these chiles so that I could make another Colorado masterpiece: Colorado Green Chili. Particularly in New Mexico and Colorado, almost every "Mexican" restaurant showcases a spicy pork green chili that can be eaten as a soup with tortillas or used to smother burritos, chile rellenos and anything else you can think of. In Colorado, the chili tends to be a little thicker. People describe it as "more gravy-like" because of the flour used to thicken it, but I've never thought of it as gravy. I think of it as pure goodness.

The kind of green chili I like the best has lots of tomatoes (which, I know, some purists think is a travesty) and lots and lots of fresh roasted green chiles.

I made this recipe the other day (adapted from here) and it turned out pretty great. The closest to Santiago's deliciousness so far...

What you need:
  • 1.5 pounds cubed lean pork (shoulder or butt is good. I was able to pick up "pork stew meat" from Whole Foods so I used that)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, tomatoes chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of roasted Hatch green chiles, skinned, cleaned and diced (I think this is about 1.2 lbs of uncleaned chiles)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
What to do:
  1. Place a large pot or dutch oven on medium high heat and add a little oil. When the oil is hot, add the cubed pork. Grind some pepper on the meat and brown. (Note: I added salt at this point too, but that made the pork release a lot of liquid so I think it might brown better with just the pepper.) Cook the pork until you don't see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions and cook until the onions are a little browned. Add the garlic and stir.
  3. Add the flour, mixing to combine. (Note: Some recipes call for making, essentially, a roux with the flour, but I didn't and don't feel like we missed anything).
  4. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the juice from the can, the chicken broth, chiles, chili powder, oregano and white pepper. Stir to combine, then cover.
  5. Simmer on relatively low heat with cover slightly ajar for two hours or until the pork is tender, stirring every so often. (Note: Instead of doing this on the stovetop, you could also do this in a Crock Pot for 2 or so hours on the high heat setting.)
  6. When the pork is tender, taste and determine if it needs more salt. It probably does. I think I put in about 1-2 more teaspoons, but you might want more or less than that.
  7. To eat as a soup, I like to garnish with a little lime, some crumbled queso fresco and a whole wheat tortilla to dip. Yum!

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