Monday, September 13, 2010

Pork Green Chile Chili

Harvest time here in Colorado is punctuated by the smell of Green Chiles being roasted at the local farmer's markets. Everyone scrambles to fill their freezer in hopes of recounting the season when the weather turns cold. Whether you like it hot or not a bowl of steaming Pork Green Chile on a February night truly warms the soul. In my mind "Chile" or "Chili", depending on your orientation, falls into two categories. The first is the Pork Green Chile Stew of New Mexico...thick and deep green with plenty of spices and rich pork flavor. This chile is perhaps best enjoyed with a stack of warm, fresh-made corn tortillas. The second is what we find around this area, a lighter version not as heavy on the chile and often seen with the addition of tomato. This style is a lighter shade of green as it is made with Big Jims or Anaheims and thickened with a roux or corn masa. You might find this chile smothering a burrito or ladled over fried eggs.

This recipe combines the best characteristics of both types, thick and hearty with a balance of spice and acidity. I think anyone who has spent time in the ABQ will appreciate it....Buen Provecho!

2 lbs. Boneless Pork Loin Roast, 1/4" diced (preferably Organic)
1 Sweet Onion, diced
6 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/8 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 cup All Purpose Flour
2 cups Green Chiles (Roasted, Peeled & Diced)
1 qt. Chicken Stock
2 cup Water
3 Corn Tortillas, torn
1 1/2 cup Fresh Tomatoes, chopped
1/8 cup Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Salt & Black Pepper

Like most soups and sauces we are going to "build" layers of flavor as we prepare this dish. To start we are going to brown the diced pork, developing rich caramel notes. Add 1/3 cup Olive Oil to a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven that has been heated over medium-high heat . Season the diced pork well with salt and pepper. You are going to want to work in batches taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Add enough pork to the hot oil to cover the bottom of the pan with space between pieces of pork. Every couple of minutes turn the pork until all sides are browned then remove them to a platter or sheet pan. You don't want to use a bowl or the pieces will steam and lose their crispy texture. Add additional oil as needed until all the pork has been browned.

Here is where things come together quickly. Return the pan to the stove, reduce heat to medium and add 1/2 cup Olive Oil. Add Onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add Garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes. Mix Dry Spices together and add to the pan stirring constantly for another minute. Add Flour to pan and continue stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes. At this point add your chopped Green Chiles and continue stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any flour or spices.

After another couple of minutes add browned pork back to the pan and stir. Pour in Chicken Stock and Water, bring to a boil and adjust to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer until pork is tender (about 1 hour).

Remove the lid and add Corn Tortillas and Tomatoes. As you continue to simmer another 10 minutes the tortillas will begin to break down and thicken the Chile. Add more tortillas if you prefer it to be thicker.

When you like the thickness add the Fresh Cilantro and Lime Juice. Finish the dish by seasoning to taste with Salt and Black Pepper.

The first bowl is best enjoyed on it's own with fresh tortillas. If you don't have a local tortillaria pick up a bag of Masa Harina and make your own. Then see just how many ways you can enjoy your Chile in the coming days!