Meat and potatoes, New Mexico style
Green Chile Stew with Pork (aka Chile Verde) is one of the best-known dishes in New Mexico. And while it’s a meat-heavy dish, the flavor is all about the chilies.
Which makes sense, because green chilies—New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop—feature superb quality and flavor.
More about chilies later. Right now, all you really need to know is this: When the weather turns cold, nothing heats you up better than a steaming bowl of Green Chile Stew with Pork.
Recipe: Green Chile Stew with Pork
Some of the world’s best green chilies are grown in New Mexico’s Hatch Valley (which runs along the Rio Grande north from the town of Hatch). Hatch chilies are named after the town, BTW; they’re not a separate variety of chile. They are essentially the same variety as Anaheim chile peppers, but the New Mexico chilies have been developed to be hotter and more flavorful than the Anaheims we buy in the supermarket.
The season for fresh Hatch chilies is late summer—so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find fresh ones in your supermarket now. In fact, even during the season, many supermarkets outside the Southwest never carry fresh Hatch chilies. But you can buy frozen Hatch chilies from several mail-order sources in New Mexico (Google is your friend here).
For this recipe, we used frozen roasted and peeled Hatch chilies that came from the Hatch Chile Store. Disclosure: They sent us a complimentary 5-pound box of frozen chilies. We almost never accept freebies, but Hatch chilies are something we’ve used and loved for years, so we couldn’t resist the offer.
If you can’t find Hatch chilies, worry not. Anaheims have good flavor, and they’re available in every supermarket, so you can substitute those. Anaheims are fairly mild, though, so you may want to use more than our recipe specifies. You might also want to add extra jalapeño peppers. If you prefer not to use fresh or frozen chilies, you can substitute canned green chilies.
This recipe is adapted from one we found in Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American. Another terrific recipe can be found at MJ’s Kitchen. (Check out her whole blog while you’re there—she does good stuff.)
Prep time for this recipe is about half an hour. Cooking time adds another 2 hours or more (most of it unattended).
This recipe serves about 8, and leftovers freeze well.
- ~9 ounces fresh or frozen Hatch green chilies that are medium heat (about 6 to 8 whole chilies, but see Notes, because you may want to vary the amount; if you can’t find Hatch green chilies, just substitute whatever green chilies you can find—such as Anaheims, poblanos, or chilacas; you can also substitute canned green chilies—see Notes)
- ~2 pounds boneless pork, cut into ½-inch pieces (pork butt or pork steaks work well; can substitute another meat—see Notes)
- ~½ teaspoon Kosher salt for seasoning the meat (or to taste; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or rendered bacon fat
- ~½ cup chicken stock or water for deglazing pan (optional; see Step 2 of the stew procedure)
- ~1 cup chopped onion (1 large; we prefer yellow onions in this dish)
- additional tablespoon of olive oil or rendered bacon fat for cooking the onions
- additional ~½ teaspoon Kosher salt for seasoning the onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (optional, and not traditional, but tasty)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 to 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomato (we sometimes double this)
- additional chicken stock (enough to just cover the mixture while cooking—about 4 cups; may substitute water)
- additional Kosher salt to taste (if needed)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (if needed)
- 1 pound potatoes (optional but traditional; white potatoes are typical, but sweet potatoes also work well—see Notes)
- 2 cups frozen sweet corn (optional, but tasty)
- jalapeño pepper slices or chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Note: If you’re using fresh chilies, you’ll get the best results if you roast them first—then skin, stem, and deseed them. If you’re using frozen or canned chilies, you can skip this part of the recipe. (Frozen and canned chilies will already be roasted and peeled.)
For the roasted fresh green chilies:
- Wash the green chilies and spread them out on a broiler pan (preferably one with a wire rack).
- Place them under the broiler and heat until the chile skins begin to blister and turn black. Turn the chilies and repeat until all sides are blistered.
- Place the roasted chilies in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. Allow them to steam for 15 minutes or so.
- Chilies are spicy and can burn your skin, so wear kitchen gloves while doing this step: Using your hands, rub the skin of each chile until it comes off. This usually is quite easy to do, but if necessary you can use a paring knife to help with recalcitrant parts.
- Next, cut off the stem end of each chile (just below the stem). Slit each chile open lengthwise and (wearing gloves) remove the seeds and cut off the white pith (these parts contain much of the chile “heat” without contributing much flavor). It’s sometimes easier to deseed chilies by rinsing them under running water—the seeds usually just wash away.
- Dice the roasted chilies into pieces about ½ inch square, then set them aside until Step 7 of the stew procedure. If you’ve prepared more chilies than you need for this dish, they freeze well. Just portion them into plastic bags and freeze.
- If you’re using frozen chilies (which usually arrive roasted and peeled), thaw them; if necessary, stem and seed them (see Step 4 of the roasted chile procedure above). Chop the chilies into pieces about 1/2 inch square. If using canned chilies, open the can(s). Set the chilies aside until Step 7 below.
- Now prepare the meat: Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then cut it into chunks of about ½ inch. Salt the meat to season it. Heat a frying pan (cast iron is ideal) and add enough oil or rendered bacon fat to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add the chunks of meat to the pan and brown them thoroughly on all sides (this will takes 5 minutes or a bit less—smaller pieces brown more quickly). Don’t overcrowd the pan, since the meat won’t brown well if you do. You will probably need to brown the meat in two or more batches, adding more fat to the pan between batches if necessary. When each batch of meat is fully browned, remove the chunks of meat to a plate covered with paper towels (so the grease can drain). When all the meat is browned, there usually will be a slight crust left on the bottom of the pan. If it’s not burnt, deglaze the pan: Use a paper towel to mop out any excess grease. Then put the frying pan on medium stovetop heat and add about ½ cup chicken stock or water. Using a spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the crusty residue (it has a lot of flavor). Pour the crusty mixture into a container and set aside until Step 8 below.
- While the meat is browning, peel and dice the onions. Warm a large cooking pot or Dutch oven—a 4-quart size is good—over medium heat (this is what you’ll be using to cook the stew). When the Dutch oven is warm, add a tablespoon of olive oil or rendered bacon fat and allow it to heat (it will shimmer when it’s hot). Then add the diced onions, season them with salt, and cook until the onions are just on the verge of browning (5 to 8 minutes). While the onions are cooking, move on to Steps 4 and 5.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely (or slice it thinly).
- Wash the jalapeño peppers (if using) and cut them lengthwise (you may want to wear kitchen gloves while doing this step). Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). Place the peppers in a bowl until you’re ready to use them, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin (if you didn’t wear gloves). You may want to reserve a slice or two of jalapeño for garnish.
- When the onions are on the verge of browning, add the chopped garlic and jalapeño to the onions and cook them for a minute or two.
- Add the browned meat to the Dutch oven or cooking pot that contains the onion mixture. Add the green chilies (from Step 5 of the chile roasting procedure or Step 1 of this procedure). Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, and diced tomatoes. Stir the mixture and allow it to simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and the deglazing liquid from Step 2 of this procedure (if using). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
- Set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes. Allow the stew to simmer until the timer goes off, then taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper if necessary. If you want a spicier stew, you can add a bit of hot sauce or additional green chilies.
- Cook the stew at a simmer for another hour. While the stew is simmering, wash the potatoes, peel them, and cut them into chunks of ½ inch or so.
- After the stew has been simmering for 1½ hours total, add the potato chunks to the cooking pot. Cook for another 30 to 40 minutes (until the potatoes are tender).
- About 10 minutes before serving, add frozen corn to the dish. Cook until the corn is tender.
- When you’re ready to serve, dish up the stew and garnish with jalapeño pepper slices or chopped parsley, if desired.
- How many green chilies should you use? It depends on how spicy you like your food—and how hot the chilies are. Green chilies range from mild to quite hot (they’re usually labeled). If you’re unsure, you might want to take a tiny bite of a chile after roasting to see how hot it is.
- Use mild chilies if you’re averse to chile heat. As noted above, Anaheim chilies are quite mild, so use them if you’re worried about too much heat.
- If the chilies you have aren’t hot enough for your taste, use more than the recipe specifies. You can always start with fewer, then add more in Step 9 of the stew procedure if you think the dish needs more flavor.
- Canned green chilies work fine in this recipe. You can usually find canned chilies in the Mexican food section at your supermarket. The cans come in various sizes, though 4-ounce containers are very common. Canned chilies usually are pretty wimpy heatwise, so we suggest starting with 8 ounces. After the stew has cooked for a bit, you can taste it to gauge the heat. If the flavor isn’t bold enough for you, add some more canned green chilies.
- Jalapeño peppers aren’t traditional in this dish, but we add them for extra flavor (and a touch of extra heat). Plus they make a great garnish.
- If you find the stew isn’t as spicy hot as you’d like, you can always add hot sauce or cayenne pepper to liven it up.
- If the stew turns out to be too hot for your taste, we suggest adding more potatoes (and maybe additional tomato and extra chicken stock) to tame it a bit.
- BTW, many green chile stew recipes don’t include tomato. But we like it, so we always add it.
- White (boiling) potatoes are traditional for this dish. But sweet potatoes work wonderfully too. We often use half white potatoes and half sweet potatoes (this post includes pictures of both this variation and the 100% white-potato version).
- Green chile stew recipes often omit corn. We like its flavor and color, though, so we always include it. Besides, green chilies and corn are a wonderful combo.
- Some recipes for green chile stew don’t call for browning the meat. But browning gives better flavor, so we always brown.
- Although pork is traditional in this dish, you can substitute beef, lamb, or whatever (MJ’s recipe uses beef).
- Kosher salt is more coarse than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting table salt for Kosher, always use less—about half as much. If the dish isn’t salty enough for your taste, you can always add more later.
- Many recipes for this dish don’t include cumin. In fact, some recipes don’t include any spices or herbs—just salt and pepper. We like spice, so we add cumin, coriander, and oregano. But suit your own taste.
Have Stomachs, Will Travel
“Love this,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, dipping a spoon into her bowl of Green Chile Stew with Pork.
“Those Hatch chilies are hard to beat,” I said.
“We really should travel to New Mexico one of these days,” said Mrs K R. “And experience eating these great chilies at the source.”
“We could go to the Hatch Chile Festival next year,” I said. “They hold it around late August or early September.”
“Hey, road trip!” said Mrs K R.
“Sounds like fun!” I agreed. “And we can bring back a case or two of chilies.”
“Yup, and it would be the perfect time to go,” said Mrs K R. “Because the Santa Fe Opera runs through the end of August.”
“Right, I should have realized you’d know the opera schedule by heart,” I said.
“We could hit Santa Fe first and catch a few operas, then head to Hatch for chilies,” said Mrs K R. “Why, we could have weeks of fun in New Mexico!”
This might turn into an expensive bowl of stew.
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