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An Autumn Chil(l)i

7 Sep

Ernesto blew through the City last weekend, but unlike the hurricanes of yore, he did not bring tropical heat and torrents of rain. He made the world grey, windy and a little chilly. Rather than being a remnant of summer, Ernesto seemed to be a harbinger of fall, of warm, comforting and seasonal cooking. It was time to get down to some chili making.

While I was contemplating my list of five things to eat before you die, the boy contemplated his own. I think there was a breakfast to cure all hangovers, cheese (natch), Colorado peaches, chicken pot pie (I think) and green chili. Being a good gringa from New England, I’ve never had green chili, actually, I’d never even heard of green chili.

To me, all chili has beans and is red. He told me all about it, I did a little research and we decided this was an adventure that must be undertaken, and, since I have no vacation days left, we’d have to have this adventure at home on the first chilly (heh) day of fall.

For those (like me) that had never heard of green chili before, it’s a stew based on chiles and pork with some tomatoes and tomatillios thrown in for texture. I was in a sixes kinda mood at the Essex Market so I picked up 6 Italian roaster peppers, 6 poblanos, 3 green bell peppers (mainly because I don’t like them), 6 jalapenos, 3 serranos (I was afraid of the heat), 6 tomatillos and 6 tomatoes (some might call this a bit obsessive compulsive), oh, and a package of cute little yellow chiles. More on those later….

I had to split up the big peppers and little peppers, not because they were fighting, but so that I could roast them. My first indication that I had maybe been duped by the cuteness of the little yellow chiles was the tickle in my nose while everything was roasting. My nose itched, my ears itched, my throat tickled and my eyes burned. This was a very bad sign…

I finally pulled all the little jobbers out of the oven, threw them in a bowl, covered the bowl with cling film and waited for them to cool while looking for a pair of gloves to wear while pulling the skin off and chopping. Alas, there was only one left, and for some reason, I put it on my right hand, the hand I hold my knife with…

Seriously, I have no idea what these yellow guys were, they were a bit bigger than a habanero or scotch bonnet, and the wrong shape, more banana shaped, but dear GOD, they were H.O.T. One little taste sent me into fits of coughing. They even made the boy sweat, and he can take anything. My left hand burned for about 6 hours. And, to top it all off, I put too much of them into the chili.

I had to use every evasive maneuver in the book to tone down the heat. I added honey, molasses, sugar, lime, diluted the chili with water. It all kinda worked, but, in the end, that was still some hot ass chili! Even when served over my ragout of elotes & hongos (I wanted to add mushrooms and hominy to the chili, but I was told that was not kosher in Colorado) and with sour cream and white rice, it still brought a wee tear to my eye.

So, the moral of this story is, green chili is not hard to make, and it’s delicious, but always (always) add the chiles slowly, very slowly, and with caution!

Oh, and another thing, green chili is also not photogenic. Sorry about the photos. The one that looks black & white was taken with my cellphone because I broke the screen on my old camera. The other ugly photos were taken with my new camera that while awesome, cannot make a prince out of a frog.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Colorado Green Chili & Ragout of Elote & Hongos.

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