Saturday, March 16, 2013
Hatch Green Chile Stew
Hatch Green Chile Stew is one of my favorite dishes. How it became this weeks recipe is another story.
Ruth and I just returned from the “Bowers Chile Pepper Food Festival” in Bowers, Pennsylvania (population 326; located near Kutztown, PA.)
This is the bustling town of Bowers at “rush hour.” Yup, this is Main Street! The festival swells the town to 20,000+ and is held each year on the Friday and Saturday** after Labor Day in William Delong Park.
For the last 10 years, we have set up our tent and sold our “Rick’s Ragin’ BBQ Sauces and Seasonings” to the throng of “chile heads” who make the annual pilgrimage to Bowers, come rain or come shine!
This year, the record rains and flooding from both hurricane Irene and the remnants of tropical storm Lee threatened to cancel this year’s festival. But, as luck would have it (and since Ruth “put it out to the universe” that we should have good weather,) the rains miraculously ceased on Thursday night, the waters receded in the park and we were able to setup for the festival on Friday morning. By the afternoon, the sun came out and the festival kicked into high gear.
I was picked to be one of the judges of the Salsa competition, which was a lot of fun!
How does all this fit into my recipe this week? Well, a delightful convergence of fresh ingredients became available and inspired me to make this dish that Ruth and I learned at the “Santa Fe School of Cooking” in Santa Fe, NM. http://santafeschoolofcooking.com
Fresh chiles are key to making this dish, and you can find them in abundance at the festival!
One of the vendors at the festival was “Southwest Chile Supply.” They drove all the way from New Mexico with dozens of burlap sacks filled with fresh picked “Hatch Green Chiles” and were roasting them in their propane-fired roaster and selling them by the pound at the festival.
Hatch, New Mexico is located 40 miles north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Interstate 25 and is home to the famous “Hatch Chile Festival.”
Due to a hot, dry desert climate, irrigation and perfect soil conditions, Hatch enjoys the distinction of being the home of "The World's Best Chile Peppers!"
The chiles are prepared by roasting them over an open flame, then placing them in paper or plastic sacks to steam (which loosens and removed the tough outer skins.) Each year during “chile season” (which begins around Labor Day) dozens of chile vendors can be found lining the streets of Hatch roasting chiles. The smell of roasting chiles is intoxicating! Fresh roasted Hatch green chiles are available by mail order and shipped frozen from several on-line vendors (including my new friends at www.swchilesupply.com) and are also available roasted and processed in cans or jars. Any way you can get them, make a big pot of this addictive stew and it will become a favorite of yours, too.
**Out of respect for the Amish residents (who make up most of the town,) the festival is not held on Sunday.
Hatch Green Chile Stew
Adapted from the Santa Fe School of Cooking recipe
2 lbs thick pork chops, cut into 3/4” cubes
1 lb pork sausage, removed from casing
1 cup fresh corn, cut from 3 ears
2 Tbs butter
4 cups beef stock
2 Vidalia onions peeled & chopped
1 can Rotelle brand “Tomatoes with Green Chiles”
6 Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and cut into ¾” cubes)
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 Tbs ground cumin
4 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
1 cup fresh cilantro chopped for garnish
1 lb Hatch green chiles (roasted/peeled/seeded and chopped)
1 cup sour cream
Cut the pork chops into cubes
Remove the sausage from the casing by slitting it lengthwise and turning it inside out
Brown the sausage in a 6 quart Dutch Oven
In a large skillet brown the cubed pork over medium high heat for about 10 minutes. Drain off and dispose of any excess fat.
Transfer the browned pork to the Dutch oven with the sausage.
Return the skillet to the heat and melt the butter until foaming, then add the chopped Vidalia onions.
Cook the chopped onions over high heat until softened (about 5 minutes.) Reduce the heat to medium, add the minced garlic and sauté together for until they begin to caramelize (about 2 minutes.) Transfer the cooked onions and garlic to the Dutch oven with the sauted pork. Deglaze the skillet with ½ cup of the beef stock, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Strip the corn from the ears with a large knife
Add this and the remaining beef stock, corn and canned Rotelle tomatoes to the pot.
Peel and “break” the potatoes into chunks with a twist of the paring knife.
Add the potatoes to the pot
Toast 1 Tbs of cumin seeds in a skillet to release the essential oils.
Then grind the toasted seeds in a spice grinder.
This makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of the dish!
Prepare the roasted chiles by cutting them open, scraping out the seeds.
Carefully remove the “veins”. This is where most of the chiles heat is located.
Once all the chiles have been cleaned they are ready to be chopped.
Chop them into 3/8 inch pieces.
Add the oregano, cumin and chopped roasted chiles to the stock pot. Add salt to taste. Simmer on low heat for 1-1/2 hours.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro. Stir a tablespoon of sour cream into each bowl to add a rich consistency. Serve immediately. Enjoy!