The air is cooler and crisper now, but the real sign of autumn around these parts is the smell of roasting green chile. New Mexicans cherish their green chile, and every family has their traditional recipe for making green chile stews and sauces. Roasters set up their stands on the side of the highway, in bank parking lots and behind restaurants this time of year and sell 30 pound bags. They roast your chile for you on the spot in big drums and package it up for you to bring home and peel, chop and freeze. We bought a 30 pound bag last year, but we’ve been rationing ourselves since the spring so we’re going for two bags this year.
|About half way through the first bag...|
Green Chile Stew
1 whole chicken
3 stalks celery
1 large onion – quartered, skin on
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of parsley
6 whole peppercorns
1 pound red or white potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
1 ½ cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cups roasted, peeled and chopped green chile
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Fill a stock pot with 12 cups of water and place the whole chicken, carrots, celery, onion quarters, bay leaves, parsley, and peppercorns in the water. Bring to a boil slowly and once at a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer. After about 40 minutes, remove the whole chicken and check that it is done cooking. Set aside to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear the chicken off the bones into bite size pieces and set aside, returning bones and carcass to the stock. Simmer stock for another 1.5 to 2 hours. Strain stock to remove vegetables, herbs and bones. Skim the fat off the top. Set broth aside.
In a large dutch oven, sauté the diced onion in olive oil until softened and golden. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute. Add the broth to the pot along with the potatoes, cumin and dash of salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour until potatoes are tender. Add the chicken, green chile and red pepper and simmer for about 15-20 minutes more.
Serve with a green salad and warm tortillas or crusty bread. This recipe easily serves 8, but it freezes well.