Pete’s Kitchen was the first place I ever had really good green chile stew. Their breakfast burrito is a rolled up tortilla stuffed with eggs, sausage, potatoes, and cheese, as big as your head, smothered in a spicy green chile sauce. The flavors were so well developed, I assumed it was one of those recipes where everything has to simmer for five or six days, leaping from a stock pot to a Dutch oven to a pressure cooker and back, constantly stirred, with a precise mixture of half a dozen different chiles.
Maybe green chile stew in its purest form has a non-negotiable recipe, but the best I can tell, you can screw this up a handful of ways and you’ll still do fine. You can leave out half the ingredients, double up the rest, miss-measure (mismeasure?) everything, and forget to time anything, but it’s going to turn out okay, as long as you pay attention to one very important step: quality chiles.
Even using standard grocery store canned chiles isn’t a deal breaker. There are some recipes that are just plain bomb-proof. Pour cereal into bowl, add milk, for instance. Do you need to measure the cereal, and does it matter whether it’s whole or 2%? Well, along those lines, you got your browned pork, then sautéed onions in a bit of the pork fat, followed by chicken stock and chiles. Like I said, bomb-proof.
I’m no expert, but I have to think that the version at the Santa Fe School of Cooking has to be a consensus fave. But if you use The Google to search the InterTubes, you’ll find that there are zillions of recipes 90% similar except that they switch around one of the steps. Some brown the pork in oil, some don’t. Some add flour to the pork, some add it to the onions, some leave it out. Some season the pork first with cumin or chili powder, some wait until you add the chicken stock, and some use the green chiles as the only spice . Potatoes are optional, as are tomatoes. Green chile quantities vary from half a cup to five pounds. Chicken stock varies from one cup to six. And some simmer for 15 minutes while others take four hours in the crock pot.
My personal recommendations:
- If you want to fire and forget, the crock pot works like a charm, but then you need a second pan to brown the pork and maybe the onions. But the beauty of the Dutch oven is that you can do it all in one contraption. Browns the pork, sautés the onions, and because it retains heat so well it does the same job as a slow cooker.
- Most purists will say this can only be made with Hatch chiles, but life’s too short to limit yourself to just one kind of anything. Find peppers that you like and mix ’em up. M’s mom sent us a gallon of assorted peppers from her CSA, Ricky and Lucy’s Country Greenhouse, just outside Sidney, NE. Mostly mild and medium, but all delicious, and the blend of flavors made for a remarkable stew.
Pork and Green Chile Stew
1-2 Tbs vegetable oil (optional)
1-2 pounds pork butt, country style ribs, or other boneless pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 garlic gloves, minced (about a tablespoon)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced potatoes
1-2 cups diced green chiles (roasted, peeled, and chopped)
cilantro for serving
— 1-2 Tbs chili powder (Ancho or New Mexico) + salt and pepper to season the pork before browning
— 1 cup diced tomatoes
Brown the pork in batches in a Dutch oven or non-stick pan. Set aside.
If anything has stuck to the pan, deglaze with a quarter cup of the chicken stock, scraping up the bits. If you’re using a Dutch oven, add the pork back to onions. If you’re using a non-stick pan, then switch everything over to a large stock pot.
Add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the chiles (and optional tomatoes) and simmer for 15 more minutes.
Depending on how much pork you use, how big your onion was, and how much chile you use, you might need to add more chicken broth to this the stew; conversely, maybe add a few Tbs of flour to thicken it.