My Mom’s Green Chile

I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market this morning, too many things going on in my house, so I missed the last of fresh non-grocery store produce I’m likely to see until next June.  Living in a place with real winter is a bummer sometimes.  Fresh produce year-round is one of the things I miss most about not living in California.

I did make a serious attempt to get some fruit and veggies at their peak this summer and find a way to store them.  I made strawberry puree from the huge batch of strawberries we brought home from the strawberry farm down the road, I froze Michigan blueberries, nectarines and peaches when we could get them fresh from the farmer’s market in July and August, I made a huge batch of apple butter when our local apples started popping up and I made fresh pesto with basil and spring garlic and froze it into pesto-cubes.  But the favorite thing I have in my stores has to be the chilies I roasted and froze.

I have some habaneros, some banana peppers, some type of little tiny Thai peppers, some mariachi, some jalapenos, some poblanos, and my all-time favorite – Hatch Green chilis.  I admit that I said “forget local” and I ordered a 25 lb. box of Hatch green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. Hatch green chilis are similar to anaheims, but I think they taste spicier (not hotter, just more flavorful) and the smell when they are roasting is beyond description.

I grew up in southern Colorado and Mexican food was a normal part of what we ate all the time, not Taco Bell stuff, but the real deal – refried beans and tortillas made with lard, sopapillas, enchiladas, flautas, chili rellanos, carne adovada, menudo, and most of all green chile.  There’s a difference between chili and chile.  Chile, where I came from, is a sauce or stew/soup made with green chilies and pork.  And it is one of my favorite things on the planet.

This recipe is an approximation of the chile my Mom made nearly every Sunday in the fall and winter when I was growing up.  I say approximation because I never saw her measure anything for it.  She just put it together Saturday evening and let it cook on low all night long.

Green Chile

5 lb  pork shoulder or pork roast , fat removed, cut into 2 in. pieces

4 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil

3/4 cup all purpose flour (3 1/4 oz)

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 quarts of chicken stock, chicken broth (64 oz) – water will do in a pinch, just season it up a little extra

1-1 1/2 lbs. of frozen roasted green chilies, chopped or 2 8 oz cans of chopped green chilies

4 jalepenos or mariachi chilies, diced (more if you like it hotter)

2 teaspoons of Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon of Cumin

1-2 tablespoons of masa harina or corn flour

Salt and pepper to taste

I make this in my 6-qt cast-iron enamel  dutch oven, but you can make it in stock pot or something smaller if you’re not cooking for an army and want to cut the recipe down.

Salt and pepper your cubed pork. Heat up the oil  on med-high and brown your pork with for 6-7 minutes.  I do mine in batches because I like my meat really well-browned and if you overcrowd your pan with meat it ends up kind of boiling in the juice.  Add all of the meat back to the pan then add your flour and stir to coat the meat evenly.  The flour is going to serve to thicken the broth so that it ends up more like a stew than a soup.  Add the garlic powder and chopped garlic and continue to stir the until the flour coating soaks up the juice from the meat and is browned, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock or broth, add the green chilies, jalepenos and  spices.  You can add more oregano and cumin than the recipe calls for if you like, but I’m a purist when it comes to my chile and I prefer for that to be the main flavor.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Taste test for salt after you turn it down, depending on what kind of stock or broth you use the amount salt you need to add can vary.  You will definitely need more salt if you use water.

I make my chile in the evening and leave it cooking on low all night long, if this isn’t an option, it should  cook for at least 2 hours at a simmer until the pork is falling apart.  After an hour or so you can add in a tablespoon or so of masa harina or corn flour to thicken your broth up if you want it thicker.  You can thicken it with corn starch or a flour slurry if don’t have corn flour, but I like the tiny bit of corn flavor that comes with masa or corn flour.

You can serve this like  soup or stew , it’s excellent with just a tortilla on the side, or use it to “smother” burritos or enchiladas.

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