Old-Fashioned Colorado Green Chile

October 27, 2011

All right, readers, now that I’ve surrendered to Autumn*, it’s time for a comforting bowl of chile.  That would be chile with an “e.”  We Westerners get our panties in a bit of a wad if you spell it with an “i”.  Chili with an “i” is red chili.  The ground beef, kidney bean, tomato kind of chili that you eat in front of the SuperBowl in January.

The “e” variety of chile is green.  You don’t top it with cheese, and you don’t crumble crackers in it, and ground beef can just take a hike because it’s not welcome here.  Green chile is vegetarian, or studded with pork, or even chicken, but no cow parts in this swimming pool, okay?

Good. Glad we got that cleared up.

Green chile is also one of the few reasons I look forward to sweater season, because in my neck of the woods, when October says howdy and the pumpkin patches open, so do the chile roasters.  Gobs and gobs of plump green chiles are plopped into big cages, turned over and over underneath a hot fire, perfuming the air with spice and char.  You can smell them for miles, and it’s a heady scent, let me tell you.  Then the blackened bounty gets parceled into bags, labeled “medium” or “hot,” and sold to the salivating public in Godzilla-like quantities.

In Autumn, you’ll find me sneaking to the local pumpkin patch at least once a week, shifty-eyed and greedy, bypassing the pumpkins and heading straight for roasting cages.  Double-fisted, I’ll carry my bags of warm, steaming treasure back to the car and stash them in the bowels of my freezer.

Then, in mid-winter, when I’m so blue that I can’t even summon the enthusiasm to eat, let alone cook, I’ll open the freezer and paw around, hoping madly that I have a bag lurking in the back. And if I do? Better than diamonds.

Now I realize that I’m spoiled.  Not all of you in this fine nation have access to chile roasters or Hatch green chiles, and for that I really am sorry.  But no worries.  You can still make a mean bowl of green with the chiles from your grocery store; it’ll just mean a little more work for you, although roasting them really isn’t that hard.  Plus, you’ll infuse your house with that delicious roasty-good scent, and that’s a bonus.

Then the fun part begins, because once your pot of chile is bubbling, you’ll get to decide how to eat it.  Ladeled into a bowl, adorned by a few crunchy corn chips and a sprinkling of cilantro?  In huevos rancheros, topped with some sliced avocado?  As a topper for a pan of cheesy enchiladas?  Ah, the possibilities.

When I make a batch, I always go for the bowl method first. I’m gluttonous that way. But do it your style.

This recipe is once of many green chile recipes I turn to in chilly weather.  It’s by far one of the easiest ones, because it’s done in a slow-cooker.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, no worries.  Just leave your chile simmering on the stove all afternoon and you’ll be tucking into a bowl in no time.

Old-Fashioned Colorado Green Chile (with an “e”)

serves 8-10

recipe courtesy of Anita Edge

2 pounds cubed pork (shoulder works well)**

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (or one 14-ounce can) seeded if desired

1 can chicken broth (14 ounces)

1 cup water

2 1/2 cups diced, roasted green chiles (about 20) seeded and skinned

2 cups diced onion

salt and pepper to taste

1 (14-oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Brown pork, garlic and pepper in a large skillet. Add flour; stir and cook 2 more minutes. Place all ingredients except beans in a crock pot and cook on low 2 to 3 hours. If desired, stir in beans half an hour before serving and warm through.

**Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work well, also.

* Autumn, my fat fanny!! As I write this, we have 8-inch drifts of snow in our backyard. Whaddaheck?! I finally bite the bullet and accept Autumn, and Mother Nature decides to smack down some winter on my butt. Argh! *shaking fist at the sky*  Go home, winter!  I’m not ready to deal with you yet, and we’ll have some grim little goblins over here if you don’t shoo by this weekend. Off with you!

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