Chile Colorado (Red Chile Stew)

Let me begin this post by saying that my mom and dad are both outstanding cooks.  Had it not been for watching them in the kitchen as a kid, I am pretty sure I would not be half the cook I am now.  I grew up on a lot of Mexican food, and by this I mean actual Mexican food–not Tex-Mex, but Mex-Mex.  The stuff you get from places like Taco Bueno or Taco Bell sure as hell aren’t Mexican (but sadly in some parts of the country, it’s what passes for Mexican food).  Real Mexican food is simple, wholesome and relatively healthy.  The stuff many restaurants pass off as Mexican food is as much a bastardization of the cuisine as the Chinese food that is found in many Chinese takeout joints.

But I digress…

You know those things your parents fix that only they really know how to fix right, that only taste good when they make them?  For me, those dishes would be my mom’s chile verde and my dad’s chile colorado.  A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my mom about red chile, and how I’d wanted to learn to make it, and she said, “It’s really easy.  You just have to buy the puree at the store.  Central Market has it in the freezer section.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather when she said this.  As a child, I remember my parents bringing back 50 pound sacks of dried New Mexico red chiles and 50 pounds’ worth of roasted Hatch green chiles from New Mexico whenever we’d go visit my grandparents in the summertime.  I also remembered that whenever mom and dad would make enchiladas, they had to rehydrate the red chiles in boiling water, puree them in the blender, strain it to remove the pulp and seeds and THEN they could make the chile sauce.  Really, the whole process is a pain in the ass, but the result is quite tasty.

The fact that you can get this:

already pureed is truly AMAZING, and a real time saver, because it saves you about an hour and a half of work!

So once my mom told me of the wonders of Bueno chile, I decided I needed to make chile colorado.  My mom makes it with oregano, which you can certainly do, as Mexican oregano complements the flavor of the chile nicely.  My dad’s version doesn’t use oregano and is equally as good, so it’s the version I went with.

No Tex-Mex here, this is Mex-Mex!

This was outstanding, and will be dinner for us for the next few days.  It’s got a bite to it, but it is really good and super easy.  Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 2-3 pounds pork chops, trimmed and cubed, bones reserved with a bit of their attached meat for flavor
  • canola oil
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, skinned and diced into bite-size pieces
  • 14 ounces red chile puree, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat about a teaspoon of canola oil and cook the pork (and bones) over medium heat until it is cooked through and no more of the cooking liquid remains.  Once the meat has cooked through, salt and pepper the meat to season it.  Add the red chile puree and garlic powder and enough water to cover the meat.  Let this come to a boil, and then simmer for an hour.  After about an hour, add in the potatoes and about 2 more cups of water and stir to evenly distribute the vegetables throughout the stew.  Allow this to continue cooking at a low simmer, about 30 more minutes.

Serve hot, with beans as shown.  Rice is also a good accompaniment, as are tortillas.  I ate mine with corn tortillas, and it was awesome.

This recipe makes about 14 1-cup servings.

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