Green chile stew


Anyone else remember all that green chile I ate last spring in New Mexico and West Texas? I imagine the memory is less compelling, less sweet for someone who just read about it instead of digesting it.  Still, perhaps you remember all that talk about how I was going to figure out how to make it?  I used all of my stew-making knowledge and sha-zam: delicious green chile stew.

I was cooking for two families, and children besides my own relatively omnivorous son were involved, so I kept the whole thing on the mild side. To punch it up I served the stew with a serrano-jalapeno-red onion relish for the grown-ups to dabble on top of the stew. It’s a relish that I would happily swathe on pretty much anything (2 jalapenos, 1 serrano, 1 small red onion – all very finely minced – with about a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt to taste). A few warm corn tortillas (for the grown-ups to eat with their stew and for the children to make masks out of with strategic hole-biting) rounded out the delicious, soul- and gut-warming creation.

Feel free to add  few hotter chiles to the stew for an all-in-one spice fest.

Green chile stew

12 large mild green chiles, such as Hatch chiles

1 large onion

2 Tablespoons lard or vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste (if you’re using commercial broth, reduce this amount to about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 lbs. well-trimmed pork butt or shoulder cut into bite-size pieces

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup beer or broth or water

2 cups broth or water

First things first, you need to roast and peel those chiles. You can roast the chiles over a gas burner or under a broiler. Then put the chiles in a bowl and cover with a pot lid or foil. Let them sit and steam and cool down a bit for at least 15 minutes. Scrape off and remove peels, pull off stems, remove seeds, and chop. Set chiles aside.

Then peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat lard or oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onions,  chiles, and salt and cook, stirring when you think of it, until soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, leaving as much fat in the pot as possible.

Brown the pork, working in batches just large enough to be in the pot in a single layer of pieces that don’t touch. This step adds extra flavor and helps melt some of the fat off the meat.

Once you’ve browned all the pork and have transfered it out of the pot, sprinkle the remaining fat/oil in the pot with the flour. Cook, stirring, until flour smells cooked, about 3 minutes. Add beer, broth or water and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. The mixture should thicken up fairly quickly. Add the 2 cups of broth or water and return vegetables and pork to the pot. Everything should be covered by liquid, add more broth or water if necessary.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, covered until pork is extremely tender, about an hour. Alternatively, you can put the whole covered pot in a 350 oven and bake for about an hour.

Remove lid and simmer to reduce and thicken liquid, if you like. Add more salt to taste, if you like.

You can cool the stew and remove the fat that will congeal on top, but that would be very silly of you because that fat is just amazingly delicious.