Thursday, February 06, 2014

chile colorado con carne (red chile beef stew)

chile colorado red chile beef stew

One recent Sunday after a hearty beef stew dinner, my family sat in my grandma’s living room taking the New York Times dialect test. It was interesting to see how the paper judged our way of speaking, though it was a little surprising to discover that several Native Texans who had never lived outside the state supposedly had accents from Jackson, Mississippi. How did that happen? We decided that the test was perhaps flawed.

What the test did successfully reveal, however, was how many words there could be for one thing. Take my grandma’s beef stew, for instance. It was slowly simmered beef in a broth rich with tomatoes and vegetables. Now, most people I know would agree that this dish was indeed stew. But someone with Eastern European roots might call it goulash, and someone from Latin American might say it was guisado. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone just simply said it was a bowl of soup. Clearly there are many ways to label an object.

So, what do you call a slowly simmered stew made with beef and red chile peppers? In most parts of Texas, you’d automatically assume this was chili, especially if ancho chiles—either in the form of powder or whole chiles—were involved. But in Far West Texas, when you encounter beef stewed with red New Mexican chiles, which are sometimes known as chiles colorados (the word colorado colloquially means red in Spanish), the dish is known as chile colorado con carne. And yes, while Texas chili and chile colorado are related, the two are not exactly same.



So how do they differ? Well, besides the different chile peppers used, Texas chili is traditionally made without tomatoes, though you will find them in chile colorado. Likewise, fillers are verboten in Texas chili yet potatoes are welcome in chile colorado. And while Texas chili is usually all beef, people often cook their chile colorado with pork instead.

I make Texas chili all the time. It’s one of my favorite things. But even though I’m not from West Texas and didn’t grow up with chile colorado, I enjoy it during the cold months, too. Fortunately, my mom visits New Mexico every year and brings me back a big bag of New Mexican red chiles, and they are always put to good use.

The recipe that inspired mine comes from a book published in 1898 called The El Paso Cookbook. It starts with New Mexican chiles, beef, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. From that base, I then embellish it with a few more spices, along with some bacon and beer. I also prefer it with potatoes; a touch that I find sets this dish apart from regular Texas chili. The chile colorado takes a while to make, as you want to slowly cook the meat until it’s fork tender. But after a few hours hanging out in a broth rich with piquant New Mexican chiles both the beef and the potatoes taste marvelous. It’s well worth the wait.

In El Paso, you’ll usually find chile colorado con carne served on a plate though I prefer to have it in a bowl, as I find it easier to eat that way. It goes best with flour tortillas and you can either use them to sop of the leftover sauce in the bowl or spoon some of the chile colorado into the tortillas to make your own soft tacos.

chile colorado red chile beef stew

If you’ve never had chile colorado, it may be new to you but I think that you’ll find it very familiar. Texans love beef and Texans love chiles and both of these are in abundance here. And no matter if you label it a chili, guisada, soup, or stew, I think everyone can agree this is a hearty, satisfying dish perfect for a cold day.

Chile colorado con carne (Red chile beef stew)

12 (about 3 ounces) dried New Mexican chiles, seeded and stemmed
6 slices (about 4 ounces) bacon
4 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 bottle dark Texas beer, such as Shiner Bock
2 cups beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 bay leaf
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon lime juice
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Shredded Monterey Jack, Muenster, or Asadero cheese, for serving
Warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving

 In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the New Mexican chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place the chiles in a blender along with 1 cup of clean water and puree until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, fry up the bacon on medium heat until crisp and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes, turning once. When it’s done, remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper-towel lined plate, leaving the bacon grease in the pot.

Sprinkle the beef with the salt and pepper and then add to the pot, cooking on each side on medium heat until lightly browned. Transfer browned beef into a mixing bowl. (You may have to do this in batches.)

Leaving on the heat on add the onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes, beer, broth, and chile puree, then stir in the cumin, oregano, allspice, cloves, and bay leaf. Add the beef and any accumulated juices and then crumble in the cooked bacon.

Turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Stirring occasionally, simmer the stew for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the beef is fork tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the potatoes and cook for 45 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the lime juice and add salt to taste.

Serve warm with cilantro, cheese, and flour tortillas.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Related Stories Widget by LinkWithin

30 comments:

Julie @ Texan New Yorker said...

Oh my goodness - I am from Dallas, live in New York, but I got Jackson, MS as my city too!! And I can't recall ever even visiting that city... I think it was "y'all" and "18 wheeler."

This stew (or whatever you want to call it!) looks great.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Julie--Yep, those in my family that got Jackson were also from Dallas. So strange!

Liz said...

I know I will make this as it looks wonderful and full of flavor, but I have to tell you that I make your Chipotle-Tomato sauce (in the meatball recipe) at least once a week for meatballs, stew, add to soup, over potatoes or sweet potatoes. I LOVE that sauce.

Great story and memory!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Liz--Thank you! I'm so pleased you've been enjoying it. I tend to keep a jar of it in my refrigerator, too, but I have to admit I haven't tried it on sweet potatoes yet. That sounds wonderful!

Esmer said...

This looks delicious! I love the addition of potatoes.
My mom made something very similar when I was growing up in West Texas. We called it simply "chile colorado." I guess the "con carne" was implied! :-)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Esmer--Thank you! And yes, you do usually see it without the "con carne" but I wanted to use the official name, especially since there are a lot of recipes for chile colorado that are just for the sauce.

Gary Willson said...

Do you think guajillo chiles would work as well? I don't know where to get NM chiles in Austin. Thanks.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Gary--You can probably find New Mexican chiles at either Fiesta or Whole Foods in Austin. But yes, you could also use guajillo chiles. You'll need to run the blender about five minutes for the puree, since their skins are tougher and/or strain the puree, otherwise it won't be smooth and you'll probably have little red flakes in the broth.

kiwsparks said...

You can bet I'll need to try this one. Yippee!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

kiwsparks--Enjoy!

Unknown said...

Hey Lisa, I want to make this tomorrow. I have a quarter of a steer in my freezer from my friend's ranch in the hill country but the only roasts that I have left are a seven bone roast and a rump roast. Which would you use?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Unknown--Either one would work, though I'd probably go with the rump since you're cutting up the meat and it's nice to roast the seven-bone as a whole roast so you can get that bone flavor.

Paul said...

As a caterer in Dallas I used to make a dish called Guisada but had to use green bell peppers as we could not make foods that were too hot! (Wimps or yankees had to be in the mix! ) Otherwise the mix was similar and delicious, slowly cooked all the way - makes a great pot luck dish!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Paul--It is a good pot luck dish!

Maria Teresa Maldonado said...

Snow (ice) day today in Austin, so I'm home with the kids. Saw this recipe on FB and had all the ingredients (all I had was guajillo though), so it's in the crockpot as we speak. The house smells wonderful!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Maria--That was fast! Hope it keeps y'all warm and toasty.

Anonymous said...

Yum! Sounds wonderful. But, am also nowhere near anything called "New Mexico chiles," red or otherwise. Very glad to see that guajilos will work. We can get those!

Thanks, Pete

Dennis said...

I grew up in Dallas, currently live in New Orleans, and received Jackson MS as well!

I'm dating a girl from Jackson so I just assumed her colloquial influence was to blame.

Too funny!

eatyourgreens1980 said...

Hmm, New Mexico Chilies are hard to get hold of in UK, any tips for alternatives? Anchos, chipotle etc?

Daniel Childress said...

Hey Lisa, Are New Mexico chilis the same as hatch? Are they hot as hell dried out? Curious as to the overall heat level on the dish (i dont mind, but some of the other folks I'd feed it to might).

Also- from Fort Worth and got Jackson as an alternate as well. bizarre.

samba00 said...

Hey Lisa,

This looks delish, as all you recipes do. I think I'll make it tomorrow.

Unrelated, but I'm about to spend 3 weeks in Houston on business. Aside from Ninfa's and a side trip to Austin for Franklin's, where should I eat?

Gail Morton said...

Enjoyed this tonight and am thinking leftovers would make a great breakfast taco with a bit of scrambled egg and some salsa. I found New Mexico chilis at my Austin HEB in the spice section, packaged Fiesta brand. 5 in the bag was perfect as I made a half recipe. (No allspice or cloves though, just don't like those flavors in savory dishes.

Jim said...

It’s cold today in Houston but not as cold as it will be soon where you are. :)
So many chili carne recipes are similar; this one is close to Amarillo chili (an oldie but a past Terlingua winner and my go-to) minus the ground round and with additions of potato and beer, subbing NuMex for the anchos. I have a big pot of red chili beef stew bubbling merrily on the stove – your red sauce method of skillet roast w/soak and blender is so much easier than the way I’d been doing it – and it’s making the whole place smell wonderful. Thanks and stay warm!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Pete--Enjoy it with the guajillos!

Dennis--There must be something similar between a Jackson accent and a Dallas one because so many folks from Dallas got Jackson.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Eatyourgreens--Guajillo chiles are a good substitute though they are more fiery. You can get those from mexgrocer.co.uk.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Daniel--Yes, Hatch chiles are New Mexican chiles. The ones used in this recipe have been ripened until they are red and then dried. They are not usually super hot, though.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

samba00--Besides Ninfa's on Navigation, I like Soto's Cantina, Teotihuacan, Goode Co. Seafood, Revival Market, Buffalo Grille, Pondicherry, and Hubcap Grill. Also, look up the Houston Chronicle's Top 100 Houston restaurants by Alison Cook, and you'll have plenty of excellent choices. I agree with a lot of what's on the list. Also, Coltivare is a new Italian place in the Heights, which I haven't been to yet but is getting great reviews. Houston is a great town for eating!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Gail--Leftovers would make excellent breakfast tacos!

Jim--You're welcome--enjoy! And I hope you're staying warm, too!

Jim said...

Now with a large pot of red stew leftovers: strain the beef, extra onions, cheese and tortillas = EZ enchiladas. A two-fer recipe. :)

Catherine said...

I've only lived in El Paso a few years, but I love chile colorado. However, I've only seen chile verde (made with roasted long green chile) with potatoes while I'm here. I'll have to ask my friends who grew up here to see if they add potatoes to their chile colorado.

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to avoid spam. And if you don't have a blog, please leave your name as it makes it friendlier that way!