Mexican food is a big part of my diet, so I finally spent an entire weekend preparing 10 different green chili recipes from several of my Mexican/Southwestern cookbooks and newspaper clippings, and had my family and friends (even neighbors) pick their favorite version. This recipe is the result of merging and very slightly modifying the three favorites (all three were "classic New Mexican" versions). (I'll keep fiddling with it, though!)
Recipe By: Karen Baldwin

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound pork loin
-- cut into 1/2-inch chunks and remove all visible fat
3 small garlic cloves
-- finely minced
1 red onion
-- finely chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons flour -- preferably masa flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

28 oz. New Mexican chiles -- roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
-- optional and preferably fresh
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2-3/4 cup chicken broth
2 large fresh tomatoes
-- pureed (or peeled and chopped) (optional)

A completely traditional Mexican Chile Verde is a green chile stew without any tomatoes at all; however, in practice it is far more common to include some tomatoes ... some "green" chilis use so many the color becomes red and the flavor becomes heavily tomato, but that's definitely overdoing it! This recipe has just a couple of tomatoes, to lend the richer, smoother flavor they impart, but not so many to adulterate the green chile character.

The flavor of green chili is influenced most by the kind of green chiles you decide to use. There are about 200 varieties of chiles, only three or four of which are commonly used in green chili.

Traditional New Mexican green chiles are a special variety that were originally bred in New Mexico from Anaheims, and which (last I knew) aren't grown outside that state. The growing climate and the varietal breeding has created chiles that are both hotter and more flavorful. Of these, my personal favorites are "Big Jim" New Mexican chiles ... plenty of fire but also lots of flavor. Anaheims have some flavor but very little fire, so they're usually mixed with the much hotter Jalapenos. Other chiles such as Poblanos or Habaneros (a/k/a Scotch Bonnets) have incredible fire (literally thousands of times hotter than any Anaheim, by scientific measure, as seen below), but not all will have equivalent flavor. Nonetheless, there is no reason to limit yourself to these, if you enjoy experimentation. It's similar to choosing what variety of apples you prefer.

Heat as Measured in Scoville units (high pressure liquid chromatography):

Bell Pepper 0 to 500
Cherry 100 to 500
Anaheim 500 to 1,000
N.M. Big Jim 1,000 to 1,500
Ancho 1,000 to 1,500
Poblano 1,000 to 1,500
Jalapeno 2,500 to 5,000
Yellow Wax 5,000 to 15,000
Serrano 5,000 to 23,000
Pequin 30,000 to 50,000
Cayenne 30,000 to 50,000
Tabasco 30,000 to 50,000
Chipotle 50,000 to 100,000
Thai 50,000 to 100,000
Habanero 100,000 to 325,000 (a/k/a Scotch Bonnets)
If anybody is particularly interested, I order mine from Hatch, New Mexico ("Chile Capitol of the World"):

The Hatch Chile Express
Post Office Box 350
Hatch, New Mexico 07937

They come already roasted, peeled, deseeded, chopped, and frozen, or you can get red dried-chile ristras, etc.). When I can't get fresh New Mexican "Big Jim" chiles from them, then I buy Josie's brand New Mexican chile in 14-oz. white plastic containers (already roasted, peeled and chopped) from the frozen foods section of my grocery store (but then, I live in Colorado where such items are very common). If your store doesn't carry them, they might order them for you. As a last resort, canned green chiles (which are almost always Anaheims) can be an acceptable (though far milder) substitute for the timid, with a rather different flavor. Avoid the pickled varieties.

WARNING: Do NOT touch your eyes after handling chiles, even after washing your hands very well. The oils will take a while to wear off even after the briefest touch ... as a contact lens wearer, i can personally attest to the importance of removing them BEFORE you get started!!

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. This green chili is already pretty low-fat, but if you prefer, eliminate or diminish the olive oil when frying your pork, and use non-fat chicken broth. Saute pork until all pink is gone (about 5 minutes). Move meat aside and add garlic and onion. As soon as garlic sizzles, stir together with pork. Put into crockpot on high.

In a small bowl, make thickener by adding water to flour and cornstarch. (Add another tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water if you prefer a thicker sauce, but wait until later in the cooking to decide if the texture is what you want, or you may accidentally make it too thick.) Add mixture to crockpot.

Add chiles, spices, chicken broth to crockpot. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and add tomatoes. (puree the tomatoes if you like a very smooth sauce; peel and chop 'em if you like more texture). Simmer on very low heat, covered, for at least 1 hour (preferably all day).

(Makes 4 good-sized servings) Freezes very well.

Serve over plain or mexican rice, burritos, chile rellenos, chimichangas, etc.

BONUS SUGGESTION: A popular hors d'oevre in this area is pickled jalapeno peppers stuffed with lots of peanut butter. Buy a jar of *pickled* whole jalapenos; cut off the stem and slice the pepper in half. Deseed it with a spoon, then dollop a great pile of peanut butter onto each half. You DO have to like the hot stuff! (I know, I know ... sounds strange and awful. Trust me.)

Karen Baldwin

Garry's Home Cookin'
Eat first, ask questions later!

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