Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Adios, October! But first, some green chili

Was October a strange month for y'all? It sure was for me. Every time I turned around, it seemed something had gone awry. Whether it was the computer meltdown we had in Phoenix, my erasing almost 200 photos when I accidentally formatted the wrong memory card, gifts I had ordered being sent to the wrong people, important emails ending up in the junk-mail folder or just the endless games of phone tag I played with my friends, almost nothing I did this month was clear and simple.

Now some people chalked up these bizarre twists and turns in communication to Mercury being retrograde. And my being a Gemini, I was doubly doomed as this planet is my ruler. But I don’t believe in that stuff. Not really, anyway. But since Mercury is supposed to un-retrograde soon (I’m not quite sure what a planet going retrograde really means), let’s hope that the rest of the year proceeds without too many more hiccups.

As I’ve been fiddling with one mishap after another, I’d forgotten that October was National Chili Month, an occasion I’m always eager to celebrate. And now that we have proper jacket-and-scarf weather happening in New York City, spending a few hours at the stove is a welcome prospect. Heck, downright necessary as it can get quite nippy inside my apartment.

Last year I discussed the merits of Texas Red. That will always be my benchmark chili—the one to which all others will be compared. But a few years ago I got it into my head to start making green chili as well. I thought it would be festive, especially around Christmas, to have big bubbling pots of red and green chili side by side. I didn’t hail from a green chili tradition, however, so I turned to a friend from New Mexico on how to make it since that state is known for its green chili.

We were at the movies and I didn’t have a pen or paper handy, so I asked him what he put in his chili just hoping I’d remember. He told me a list of ingredients and his method, which after watching the film I promptly forgot. No matter, I didn’t use a recipe for my red so I reckoned I didn’t need one for my green.

I simmered pounds of chopped pork back with only green chiles (jalapenos, poblanos and serranos) and only green herbs (cilantro and Mexican oregano). I threw in some tomatillos, chicken broth, beer, garlic and onions for good measure, and after a few hours I had a pot of tender pork nestled in a thick, fiery gravy. It wasn’t exactly green, but there were enough green spots dotted around the bowl for me to feel triumphant. Plus, the texture was dense, as a good chili should be, but the tomatillos and cilantro added a welcome brightness. I loved it.

Soon after, my New Mexican friends invited me over for dinner. And on the menu was green chili—New Mexican green chili. And while they shared similar ingredients, it was nothing like mine. Where mine had heat, theirs was more subtly spiced. Where mine stuck to the spoon, theirs was more liquid with distinct chunks of meat. Two completely different dishes, and yet both were welcome on a cold night. “I guess I didn’t follow your directions very well,” I told my friends. They laughed and said it didn’t matter, as my version, while essentially wrong could still be considered right.

So even if I didn’t make green chili the New Mexican way, my green chili is still worthy of the name. And it’s also a darn fine pleasure to eat. So in celebration of National Chili Month and in honor of miscommunication I present to you my green chili—proof that sometimes a misunderstanding can lead to something good.

Green Chili

Ingredients:
4 lbs of boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb of poblano peppers (about 5)
4-10 serrano peppers stems removed and sliced
4-10 jalapeno peppers stems removed and sliced
1 lb tomatillos cut in 1/8ths (about 6 to 8)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons of cumin
2 tablespoon of Mexican oregano
2/3 to 1 cup of cilantro
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of dark beer
1/4 cup of masa harina
Salt and white pepper to taste
Peanut oil, olive oil or lard for frying

Method:
1. Roast the poblanos in the oven at 400 degrees, until blackened, and then place in a paper bag for about 20 minutes. After this, the skins should come right off. Then dice the peeled poblanos.
2. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, fry the onion in peanut oil until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the pot.
3. In an iron skillet, lightly brown the pork on each side in lard (or the fat of your choice) for a couple of minutes and then add to the soup pot. You will probably have to do this in batches.
4. Once all the pork has been lightly browned and added to the soup pot, add two cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of dark beer. Also throw in the pot the tomatillos, 3 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano and half of your sliced jalapenos and serranos. (I varied the number of jalapenos and serranos based on heat—the more you add the hotter it will be. If you don’t want it too fiery, just stick to four of each.)
5. Turn on the stove to medium and bring chili to a boil and then turn heat down to low.
Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
6. After an hour, add 3 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano, 1/3 cup of cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for half an hour uncovered on low, stirring occasionally. At this point, you’ll probably notice a nice brown oil slick on the top of the pot. I skim the fat by sticking in a ladle and dragging it over the surface. This isn’t foolproof, but it gets rid of most of the fat.
7. After half an hour, throw in the rest of the green chiles in the pot and add another 1/3 cup of cilantro. Cook for another half an hour to 45 minutes.
8. In a separate dish, mix the masa harina with some of the chili liquid until a thick paste is formed. Slowly stir this into the chili until it’s well incorporate without any lumps. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Goes great with sour cream, tortillas and cilantro.
Note: As with all things savory, the spice and herb amounts are just a guide. I usually make adjustments as necessary by tasting as I cook.

P.S. Thank you so much to all who inquired about Lily. She doesn’t have cancer, but she’s too old to be a candidate for surgery to remove the growth. That said, she’s acting cheerful and normal so we’ll just see how it goes for now. She's had a long, happy life, so I'm at peace with whatever happens.

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47 comments:

Deborah said...

Hmmm, I grew up in New Mexico, but have never made green chili before. I think I need to start with this recipe!!

Tommy said...

I am not sure about where you live, but here in Ontario, many cuts of meat go on sale at summer's end, including many choice cuts of pork. It seems once BBQ season ends, pork cost less than half what they charge during the warmer months.

I've got a frezer full of pork roasts, ribs and I think I might have to fire up a batch of green chili.

I wish we had better access to the real New Mexico peppers, but with a bit of foraging I think I can rustle some up. Thanks for the recipe.

Kay said...

I've been meaning to leave a comment for months now. I'm an Okie who is also half Texan and I've had a lifelong quest for a good biscuit recipe. I tried yours and love it! Thanks so much to sharing it with us. I'll try this green chili next.

Melissa said...

I've been meaning to make your red chili ever since you posted about it, and now I have a new one to the list. They both look so good, but I can't fathom what either of them actually taste like seeing as the only chili I ever ate growing up came out of a can...

I have made your biscuits, though, and like Kay I think they're spectacular!

Kate said...

hey its strange , i know a couple of friends who've been complaining about Oct being not so good. We too have had a bad season work wise , so yes we all hope and pray the rest of the year goes without any hiccups :)
I've never tried green chilli , your recipe looks interesting.Love the use of 3 diff peppers in here.

Trojan said...

yep, green chili is usually the hottest yummiest variety here in Austin..yum

I'll give your recipe a go and thanks:)

Kevin said...

Looks great! I really like green chili.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I try to think about what it would be like to live entirely in the present, the way my dogs and my cat do. It would be great when old age comes, because there's no fear of what the condition means. To me, that's a comfort when I think about the fact that my oldest dog may not live much longer. He has some lumps too, but they don't seem to bother him at all. I think as long as he has fun and is not in pain, he'll be here getting loved and taken care of; that's the most any of us can ask, I think. I hope your cat has more years of fun and love.

Lissa said...

Sounds yummy! I've never had it, but am definitely willing to give it a try.

BTW, if you ever have that problem again with the memory card (accidentally erasing it), don't give up. The photos can be recovered, especially if you haven't taken any new ones after erasing.

If you don't know a computer guru in your neck of the woods, give me a shout - my husband is a PC repairman, and has recovered erased photos for several customers.

Kalyn said...

I would love to have some of this for dinner!

Garrett said...

OMFG! Yum, this looks so freaking tasty!!! Cannot wait to make it!

Nabeela said...

lovely idea of using green vegetables with meat to make chili...I'm thinking of trying something similar bt with chicken.

Alex said...

I absolutely adore chili and I will definitely try your recipe for green chili as I've never had that kind before...droool...

Luisa said...

Oh-ho, this looks amazing. Cannot wait to try it. I'm also having a ball in your archives right now, with my pepper/Mex obsession. So, thanks! :)

Lydia said...

My own green chili, spurred on by several gifts of Hatch chiles, is even less authentic than yours -- further proof that almost anything that goes into a pot with chile peppers will come out pretty darn good. I'm bookmarking your recipe to give it a try -- it looks delicious.

radish said...

I've never made this - so I'll have to give it a whirl. In our household, anything involving spice and hot peppers gets an instant nod of approval :) it'll be perfect for a cold and rainy day - which reminds me, I need to take a sick day. Soon.

Homesick Texan said...

Deborah--I can't believe growing up in New Mexico you never made green chili--no matter, now's a perfect time to start! Enjoy!

Tommy--I've never noticed meat going on sale at the end of the summer, but it makes sense. Too bad I didn't stock up!
Good luck with your foraging!

Kay--Wonderful! I'm so happy you enjoyed the biscuits!

Melissa--You need to eat some real chili soon--it tastes nothing like that canned stuff (though I must admit the canned stuff is perfect for Frito pie). Glad to hear you also loved the biscuits!

Kate--What was up with October? I know so many people who thought it was an awful month. No matter--it's finally November!

Trojan--You're welcome! I don't think I ever had green chili when I lived in Austin, but next time I'm there I'll have to try some.

Kevin--Thanks!

Anon--I like your philosophical take on our animals. Very comforting.

Lissa--Oh, darn! I already took photos with the card again. Is it too late to recover the deleted images?

Kalyn--You would love it--all your favorite flavors! And South Beach friendly as well (if you forgo the tortillas.)

Garrett--Thanks! It is indeed very tasty. Hope you like it!

Nabeela--I've never tried it with chicken, but I reckon it would taste just as delicious--green chiles, cilantro and tomatillos go so well with chicken.

Alex--It's definitely drool-worthy!

Luisa--You're very welcome--glad someone's getting some use out of the old archives!

Lydia--I've never made it with fresh Hatch chiles (though I did make it once with canned ones) but that's what my New Mexican friends used. They're not as fiery, but very flavorful.

Radish--On a cold and rainy day, a bowl of this will warm you up in no time. And take that sick day--I won't tell!

Vanessa said...

This looks marvelous, sounds divine, and I can't wait to make it...thanks Lisa.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, yummy! That's a wonderful dish! Delightful! I'm in love with Tex Mex food...

Cheers,

Rosa

Olivia said...

Oh my my! Poblanos, tomatillos, cilantro....*drool*

I have never heard of green chili before, but it sounds ever so yummy.

Thank you for the update on Lily. Please give her an ear scratch for me. (I've been without pets for so long that I, not traditionally a cat lover, am beginning to like them a whole lot!)

hensteeth said...

Your recipe reads tasty, and I will give it a go when the weather cools down. It looks like the leftover could be a nice filling for a stray tortilla too. Thank you.

And yup, green chile stew is a soup.

Take away the cumin, masa, beer, oregano and increase the chicken stock, and you have the recipe.

The trick, like you said, is to finish the long simmer with most of the cilantro and most of the green chile, both to taste. If you throw it in the last 10 minutes by bits, it keeps the stew green with just your brand of hot.

Learned the basic recipe from the ladies at the tamale factory down the street when I lived in Albuquerque. And the smell of fresh tamales is surely what heaven smells like.

ann said...

uhmhum, that sounds delicious! It sounds more like the Colorado green chili I've sampled in the red state. Funny...
I love your reasoning for making green chili, because it's festive. That's my kind of circular logic!

Anonymous said...

howdy!

i guess if you're the homesick texan, i'm the homesick coloradan. i live here in italy, and i've found that whenever i need to cook up something 'american' for the picky folks here, i usually reach for one of the old western standbys. (i need to review your site for chili recipes!) i wanted to thank you for the sopapilla info!

i'd be interested to know your thoughts on:

-thanksgiving; it's coming up.
-good bar-b-q sauce recipes.
-good dishes to make when you don't have some of the fancier ingredients. (where on earth will i find serrano peppers?)

also: have you ever heard of a mexican dish called 'chiles en nogada'? would love to make it at home...

thanks again!

Cynthia said...

I've heard of green chili before but never had it. Yours however makes me just want to grab the bowl for myself :)

Lisa said...

Mmm, green chili. That looks and sounds divine. I'm making a pork and green chili stew this weekend that's slightly reminiscent of it, actually, and it's one of my most favorite things to eat.

I'm glad that Lily is feeling fine, even if the overall prognosis isn't great, and I wish her and you all the best.

Meena said...

Oh my God!!! I absolutely love chili this time of year, and this recipe sounds delicious. I must try it soon.

Caroline said...

Never heard of green chili but this looks amazing! May your November be better than October.

Julie said...

Some recipes just read as delicious and this is one of them. Plus your pictures look so tasty. And I bet this makes great leftovers -- the sort of thing that you happily bring to work the following day(s).

bj said...

Hi, I'm a new blogger (from West Texas, so you're bound to like me!) and am delighted to find your amazing blog. I am so dang hungry for chili right now I can barely type!! Yummm. and your's sounds sooo delicious. Guess what we're havin' for dinner tonight? YOUR CHILI....
hugs from Texas,
bj

s'kat said...

It just goes to show you that there is a world of right in the bottom of a bowl of chili.

Tommy said...

I watch a lot of food programs and chili competitions are always being aired. It seems more and more the green chili category is being introduced and slowly the category is gaining more attention.

Still the prize money for green chili is still a fraction of that of red chili.

Forgive my regionality, but how long has green chili been part of the culinary landscape in Texas ( or the US) and why is it not right up there with red chili ?

Is it a pork vs beef producers thing ?

Just curious.

Christina at Ramble Magazine said...

Hi and thanks for a fantastic recipe! This is the first time I'm here and before I've even managed to skim through the site, I have to give you two thumbs up for this chili -- green or not.

If anyone is interested in getting New Mexican spices, you can order from a place called Da Gift Basket (www.dagiftbasket.com) in Los Lunas, NM. I've ordered big bags of green chili powder several times and it has arrived in just a couple of days. Taste is great. They even have frozen hatch chili to ship in 5 lb packages.

Anyway, time to check out the rest of the site.

nikkipolani said...

Thank you for that update on Lily. I wondered how she was doing and am amazed that she doesn't have cancer. Though Nikki is 19, my vet thought the tumors small enough to be worth removing and extending her life a year. Kisses to Lily.

Susan said...

Mmmm...thin ones are great for slurping and thick ones are great for using those deliciously crispy torillas to scoop up the chunks of meat and veggies. It looks fabulous!

Homesick Texan said...

Vanessa--Thanks! I hope y'all like it!

Rosa--If you're in love with Tex-Mex, you'll definitely love this!

Olivia--Those are three of my favorite foods as well. And consider Lily's ear scratched. Thank you!

Henstheeth--Oh yes, stray tortillas are made all the better with some of this chili. Thanks for the tips on "proper" green chili--I'll have to make it soon.

Ann--I'm pretty anal, so I always want all my foods to color coordinate and look pretty together.

Anon--I don't have a bbq sauce recipe, but my uncle has an excellent one--I'll ask him for it and post it soon. And I love chiles en nogada. You're the second person requesting a recipe so I'll also write something about that soon. As for chile substitutions, I know that they have red hot chiles in Italy--perhaps that might work. Though if you have the space and the inclination, I reckon you could grow chiles as well.

Cynthia--There's plenty to go around so here's a bowl for ya.

Lisa--I know, there's just something about the combination of green chiles and pork that works so well. And thanks for your well wishes for Lily.

Meena--Enjoy! It's definitely chili season!

Caroline--Thanks, November is already shaping up to be far superior to October.

Julie--It makes for excellent leftovers. Matter of fact, I think it tastes better the next day.

BJ--I'm a big fan of West Texas indeed--hugs back! Hope y'all enjoyed the chili!

S'Kat--There is indeed! I think that might become my new catch phrase!

Tommy--I didn't grow up with green chili, it was more a Mexican or a New Mexican thing whereas Texas Red was our chili standard. They're two completely different beasts, and since most chili cook-offs follow strict guidelines, I don't think they should be in competition together.

Christina--Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check out that site.

Nikkipolani--That's good news! Big hugs for Nikki!

Susan--Yep, those tortillas help you scoop up every last delicious drop!

Carolyn T said...

Your chile recipe has a mind of its own. It's evolving and changing via CooknKate's version. I made it yesterday (with less chiles, and it was STILL hot!). But, the stew is absolutely delicious. I wrote it up today on my blog too, with my minor changes. Thanks for your ingenuity!
http://tastingspoons.blogspot.com

Georgia said...

We've made this a couple of times now and it's a huge hit in our house - to be perfectly honest most of your recipes are. We live in Australia so we don't have a lot of authentic Mexican or Southern food around so your blog is a god send. We made your Carnitas for 30 people on a camping trip over Easter - very very popular!

Matt said...

This is a great recipe...the taste makes you want to fall to your knees and cry. tortillas is a must...

Dafiloola said...

OK, I LOVE this recipe. I used pork chops cut up instead of the pork butt, white onion instead of yellow, and no bear since I can't have gluten. That being said it still came out great and the funniest part is I used non mexican oregano and accidently put in parsley instead of cilantro. (They are both green! LOL) My husband is italian from new orleans and he is calling it Dego Verde. He loved it and so did all his co-workers and the two friends of mine I shared it with. So I'm going to keep to the "mistake" recipe from now on.

Foodiebia said...

This is the eighth tab I now have at the top of my browser with one of your recipes. I am going through the archives and can't help but pull out so many recipes that look incredible! Can't wait to try some - hopefully this weekend!

pam said...

omg...HELP! this gringo can't take the heat! how do i "cool" the fire in my simmering green chili?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Pam--serve it with a lot of sour cream! The heat does die down a bit, however, the longer you cook it.

pam said...

Thank you, Lisa...i'll give it a try! p.s. Smells divine! :-)

pam said...

my family LOVED your green chili and i'm actually making it again today; however, i am intrigued by your friends New Mexico chili. (which was my original google search which led me to your fabulous and now bookmarked blog!) Any chance you could go to the movies with him once again with pen and paper in tow? popcorn's on me! ;-)

thanks,

pam

Anonymous said...

Being a New Mexico transplant, NM Green Chile (note the spelling) is well different than the well known Texas Red. If you are unable to get actual NM green chiles (preferably from Hatch or the Mesilla Valley) you can go with Anaheims, which are more readily available.

Look up versions of this great dish online, try to use fresh chiles and roast them over your gas stove's flame, then peel the skins off and use them. Many variations can be tried, I saute my onions in olive oil, and then throw in white wine to mellow them, many would think this sacrilege (until they taste the end result!).

There are places that ship NM chile, but the dried red (mature green, actually) is the only economical type to ship. I am leaving NM this August for the opportunities to be had in the great American Midwest, but I will surely miss the great New Mexican and Chihuahuan cuisine I've been greedily eating since '96. I will be shipping NM red chile so I can have proper posole for cold weather and "under the weather" days.

Chris A

Anonymous said...

Made up a great batch of the green chili this past weekend. Amazing! I went full speed on the chiles and thought the heat was very nice.

Robert S said...

I have made this green chili recipe several times, including at the deer camp, everyone always love it for lunch-supper-and even at breakfast. Thanks Lisa

Robert S

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