The weatherman tells us that tonight we're going to have the first of a series of fairly hard freezes- mid-20s, so that's it for the last of the figs, basil, tomatoes and peppers. The weather today would be familiar to anyone who has spent much time in northern or higher elevation NM (even though we aren't northern or highland)- not much breeze, brilliant blue sky, but chilly, particularly in the shade.
We're going to build our first fire of the fall and, in further recognition of winter, have our first pot of green chile stew. A and I have slightly different takes on this dish, she favoring a modernistic, wide ranging interpretation wherein whole kernal corn, pinto beans and other ingredients are incorporated. Rather than nuts, twigs, berries and flowers in my green chile stew, I adhere to a more basic version comprised of only a few ingredients. Monday, we had our last pizza margherita of '14, tonight we'll enjoy a late fall or winter dish. Should you decide to make a basic, NM style green chile stew, I'd suggest:
1 pound or so of pork, beef, orxy, antelope, deer or elk, in ascending order of preference, tough cuts, cut into decent sized chunks- about 1/2 inch by 2, no larger than 2 inches by 2.
2 medium onions, in a fairly large dice
1 cup (or more to taste) of New Mexico green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped.*
1 can of tomatoes, either whole or diced
about 1 1/2 pounds of peeled potatoes, cut roughly the same size as the meat
flour for dredging, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf
In a dutch oven or 6 quart pot, heat a little oil over medium high heat. Brown the meat pieces that have been dredged in seasoned flour, with all excess flour shaken off, on each side and in batches. Set the browned meat aside on a plate, then add the onions to the pot and cook until translucent. Stir the onions around once they've sweated some to get the browned bits from the meat up from the bottom of the pot. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, chile, bay leaf and meat back in, along with any accumulated juices from the meat, and pour in enough water to cover all the ingredients. Once it has come to a simmer, reduce the heat to keep it there and let it simmer slowly for a couple of hours. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste. Once everything is tender, serve with flour tortillas or other bread. Whoever gets the bay leaf has to do dishes. Good for dinner, breakfast, in camp or at home.
You can make the stew without flour if you choose, the potatoes will thicken it up some. A claims that browning the meat without flour give a more meaty, complex flavor to the dish, and I'd believe her except that she'll throw garbanzo beans or black olives or whatever in the pot and still call it green chile stew. A and I switch off on pots of green chile stew, from her more catholic approach to ingredients to my more basic style. The proportions above are general, I'd just suggest plenty of chile, as it is supposed to be green chile stew, not just stew with chile in it.
* If you don't know about New Mexico style green chile, you'll have to read around a bit, as that is a subject unto itself. In the fall, many residents of the Southwest buy the green chile pods, have them roasted, then freeze them for use all winter. If you don't have access to a green chile roaster in season, you can roast "anaheim" or New Mexico green chiles over a gas flame, barbecue, or in a hot oven, slap them in a plastic bag to sweat for fifteen minutes, then peel, seed and chop. Alternatively, the internet is your friend. New Mexican green chiles, often called Anaheim chile in stores, is important to the dish. Poblanos or other chiles will have a very different flavor. It might be good, but it won't be right.