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.

Colorado Green Chili

prep time: a while ~ cooking time: all day

  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 head of Garlic, minced
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 6 Jalapenos, 3 Serranos & 1 very hot chile roasted* and roughly chopped
  • 6 Tomatillos, roughly chopped
  • 6 Roma Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 6 Italian Roaster Pepper, 3 Green Bell Peppers & 6 Poblanos roasted* and roughly chopped
  • 8 cups Beef or Chicken Stock or Water or a combination
  • 1 lb Pork (we had some tenderloin in the freezer and used this, but I think Pork Butt is traditional)
  • Salt
  • Cumin
  • Oregano (I was out of oregano, so I used some thyme)
  • Sweetner (honey, molasses, sugar) as necessary

Add a glug of olive oil to a very large stock pot over a medium-low flame. Add the onions and begin to sweat. When just becomming translucent, add the garlic. When the onions begin to take on some color add the lime juice, the spicy chiles, the tomatillos, tomatoes and peppers. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes.

Cook’s Note: Traditionally, this stew begins by browning cubes of pork butt in the fat and then adding the vegetables. As noted, I had a goregous piece of pork tenderloin in the freezer, but it just didn’t feel like thawing, so right about this time, just as the vegetables were beginning to break down, I tossed the huge hunk of meat into the pot and covered it with stock and water. Once I was sure the meat had cooked through I pulled it out and cut it into chunks and then returned them to the pot. Obviously, if you start with the pork, you don’t need to add it now.

When the vegetables begin to break down, add the liquid and pork, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Allow to cook at a healthy simmer for an hour.

Taste. Does the stew need more salt? More lime? Is it too spicy? If the stew is too spicy, you can counteract this by adding some sweetners (honey, molasses, sugar, but beware, molasses will ruin the color) and lime.

Allow the stew to cook for at least 3 hours. It should attain a slightly gloopy consistency, just thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Serving suggestions: Over rice, over enchilladas, over a vegetable ragout, as soup, heck, anyway you want, it’s delicious all by itself!

Ragout Of Elote & Hongos

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Garlic to taste, minced (I used a whole head, but I love garlic)
  • Olive Oil
  • 16 ozs Crimini (aka Baby Bella) Mushrooms, washed & quartered
  • Salt
  • 1 cup Hominy or Giant Corn, cooked, soaked or from the can
  • 1 Beer (Dos Equis seemed appropriate)
  • Cilantro, washed and chopped

In a sauce pan or saucier heat a very small glug of olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms (do not be alarmed, they will suck up all the oil, do not add more). Allow to cook, stirring constantly until they begin to shrink and give off their liquid. Season with a pinch of salt. Add the corn. Turn up the heat to high and add almost all the beer (save a healthy glug for yourself). Allow to cook until all the beer has just cooked off. Turn the heat off, add cilantro to taste.


*My favorite way to roast chiles or peppers is in a pan in a very hot oven. Turn them every so often so as to assure an even char. Some people prefer to roast them over an open gas flame. To me, this causes far too much smoke. Either method, when the peppers are evenly charred place them in a bowl and cover with cling film and allow the chiles to cool. Once cool you can just slip the skin off the peppers and (slightly) more easily remove the seeds.


9 Responses to “An Autumn Chil(l)i”

  1. s'kat September 7, 2006 at 1:47 pm #

    I love using tomatillas, but have (duh) never thought to put them in a chili. What a great idea! I’ve got no time to cook tonight, but I’m pretty sure there is at least one bucket of chili still shivering away up in the freezer… time to break that bad boy out!

    Oh, and ouchie on your peppers thing. I did that once with, coincidentally, a pork stew. Trust me: don’t even try to eat it on day two!!

  2. Tiny Banquet Committee September 7, 2006 at 2:14 pm #

    “I had to split up the big peppers and little peppers, not because they were fighting, but so that I could roast them” – haha!
    I have never tried green chili but I did try making a white chili once, with chicken or turkey, can’t remember which. After hours of chopping and stirring and etc., a glass tumbled out of the cabinet above the stove and shattered right into the pot. There was no chili that evening. :(

  3. Julie September 7, 2006 at 3:31 pm #

    Some food just refuses to be photogenic. This seems to be especially true of the kind of stew-y dishes you want to eat on a rainy day and your chile sounds like a great meal for a rainy day.

    If the hominy had been in the chile you would just about have posole verde on your hands.

  4. sher September 7, 2006 at 4:35 pm #

    Greem chili is fabulous!!! Yumm. And I have the same problem with some foods photographing in a peculiar color! But, I love green chili, so I know yours was delicious.

  5. Luisa September 8, 2006 at 4:58 pm #

    Like you, I also thought chili was all about beans and being red. That is, until I went to Colorado last month and had a fabulous bowl of the green stuff with pork in a little town near Vail. Delicious!

  6. Pamela September 9, 2006 at 5:31 am #

    That looks absolutely, utterly and completely awesome!!

  7. ann September 9, 2006 at 11:40 am #

    s’kat — we actually did eat it on day two, with rice, and lots of sour cream… the boy is agitating to eat it again tonight, 7 days later! i think i need to put a stop to this post haste!

    TBC — DOH! that totally blows!

    Julie — that’s just what I was thinking about when I suggested adding the hominy. I looooooove posole!

    Sher — thanks for the vote of confidence :-)

    Luisa — I’m so fabulously impressed that you can remember anything from your trip to Vail! we went last year for a wedding and I barely remember anything, the altitude really messed with my head. we also went to this town called Leadville that was at 12,000!! I vaguely remember eating breakfast, but that’s about it!

    Pamela — Thanks! I know how you like the spicy, I bet you’d LOVE this!

  8. Lydia September 12, 2006 at 6:27 am #

    OK, this is freaky. I was prowling through my pantry last night, determined to use up stuff in the freezer (to make room for….more stuff in the freezer, of course), and found a brick of frozen roasted green chiles that a friend had brought from New Mexico. And a package of ground turkey. Both are defrosting in my fridge at this very minute, waiting to become green chile stew tonight. And here you are with this fabulous recipe! I’ll throw in a couple of hot peppers, too, just for fun. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. ann September 14, 2006 at 8:06 pm #

    omg, Lydia, thanks for stopping by! I love your blog so much! I can’t wait to see what you concoct with your chiles and turkey!

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