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Let’s Talk about Green Chile Stew

I’ve mentioned before that I lived in New Mexico for ten years.  Albuquerque, precisely, when I was in college and graduate school.  I miss it sometimes, even though I know it’s not really the same place it was when I lived there.

The thing I miss most about it is green chile.  Nothing like Hatch green chiles roasted in autumn to make your endorphins rush and to give you a happy contented feeling.  Eating green chile will cure any cold you’ve ever had, too.  Really.  They’re very high in vitamin C and make your nose run from the heat.  These chiles are very hot, but have a beautiful and unique taste and smell that is out of this world.

When I first moved there to go to school at the University of New Mexico, I remember calling home and telling my folks that the only green vegetable that seemed to be available there was green chile.  I thought the whole thing was really weird until I tried them.  Then, I understood.

Right across from UNM is a restaurant called The Frontier.  It takes up an entire block and when I lived there was 24/7.  The food was cheap and good and they didn’t mind it if people studied there. I miss this restaurant just about every day.  Proximity to it makes me think retirement in NM might be a great idea.
The Frontier has your basic hamburgers and fries, but the best stuff was a) the Western-style hashbrowns (hashbrowns with a thick layer of diced green chiles and then covered with cheese), and b) breakfast burritos (with eggs, potatoes, onions, bacon, green chile, and cheese wrapped up in a fresh flour tortilla).  With the breakfast burritos it is essential to also order a side of green chile stew to pour over them.  Plus they have cinnamon rolls.  Great big plate-sized cinnamon rolls that they pour butter over.  Just don’t tell anyone you’re eating it and the calories won’t count, right?

What, you wonder, is green chile stew?  It’s a stew that is very popular throughout Northern New Mexico.  You can get it just about anywhere, everyone makes it (I even made it when I lived in the dorms), and everyone eats it.  It’s one of those feel good stews that warms you to the bone.  People make it with different kinds of meat – traditionally it’s made with pork butt, but others make it with ground hamburger.  I make it with ground turkey.  When you add hominy to the recipe it becomes New Mexican-style posole – a Christmas eve dinner staple.

In a perfect world, I would always have green chile in my freezer.  Unfortunately, at roughly $75 for shipping (if frozen or canned) and the necessity of buying at least 10 pounds fresh if you want to roast it (not an amount my freezer can accommodate), it just isn’t a perfect world.  When I feel particularly flush I order some, but I most often substitute canned diced green chiles – not perfect, but will do the job.

My recipe is pretty basic and built from combining different recipes to get the flavor I like.  I’m making green chile stew this afternoon, actually, and really looking forward to the beautiful smell of the stew cooking and the happy eating once it’s done.

Green chile stew
Caitlins Green Chile Stew
2-4 lbs ground turkey
1 large onion, peeled & quartered
1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch chunks
tsp black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
3 cups green chile (canned or frozen)
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 tbs flour
1 tsp. salt
tsp. dried oregano
tsp. ground cumin
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic,oregano, salt, pepper, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, without allowing to color, for 2 minutes. Add the green chiles and diced tomatoes (with their liquid), and stir well to combine. Add the browned turkey and the chicken stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Some additions if you like:  carrots, corn, hominy.
You can serve with tortillas, but I always make biscuits.
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