Some treasures are not discovered until later in one’s life – I put “green chile” in that category. Raised in southern Virginia, my Dad the single-wage earner and Mom taking care of us four kids, there wasn’t a lot of time or money for “culinary experimenting.” We ate well growing up, Mom was a good cook, southern basics and all, but as I discovered later in life as I joined the USMC and began to explore the world, I also discovered my growing-up culinary world was rather myopic.
The door of that perspective got a little wider one day in Raleigh, NC along about 1971 or so, when a friend took me to a place called “Tippy’s Taco House.” Surely it’s long gone by now, but it was the first place I ever had…a taco!
And…I liked it! Fast forward to a few years later, in the late 70’s, I discovered the Mexican food scene in Denver, Colorado, where the Mexican restaurants nearly outnumber the businesses with the phrase “Rocky Mountain” in their name, and hardly a corner can be found without some kind of “taco” offering. Let’s say my “Mexican culinary appreciation level” was definitely kicked up a couple of notches. As I traveled around the world, (6 continents, 30 countries, and too many cities to count), I continued to have my palate educated, and my love for “Mexican” food grew even stronger.
Fast forward to current day (actually around early 2011) when I visited a small restaurant known as “Guayos El Rey” on Main St. in the small copper-mining town of Miami, Arizona, about an hour east of Phoenix. It was there I had somewhat of an epiphany, as I discovered that among the various types, kinds, flavors, and tastes of “Mexican” food, I had suddenly reached the pinnacle of pure Mexican food goodness. This region has a class and taste of Mexican food like no other.
I don’t know how else to describe it. There’s Mexican food. And there is good Mexican food. And there is the Southwest, and all the Tex-Mex goodness that it entails. But then…there is Miami, Arizona and the surrounding region, where Mexican food tastes like no other place in the entire country. People from that region understand what I’m talking about. If it’s not Guayo’s El Rey on Main St, in Miami, AZ, then it’s Irene’s in Globe, AZ, only a few miles east whose name says it all “Irene’s Real Mexican Food.” I’m not kidding – and the funny thing is…it’s the truth. Once you’ve sampled this wonderful area’s Mexican cuisine, you’ll be ruined…no, make that spoiled forever as far as Mexican food goes.
Even though this recipe has its origins in Arizona, anyone in the region knows that Hatch Green Chiles, which are grown in Hatch, New Mexico, are the base ingredient for this most wonderful Mexican chile. The real beauty of this particular dish is the simplicity and purity of the ingredients – basically pork and/or chicken and chile peppers – and not a lot else. I’ve only made minor tweaks to the original recipe, but it remains a mouth-watering south of the border delight.
Arizona-Style Green Chile
1 tsp pepper
12 cloves garlic, diced
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
*Note – this chile is hot! If you don’t want it as hot, cut down on the number of chiles that you use, especially the habaneros!!
If necessary, remove any fat from the pork, then cut into a rough dice/chunks, and season with salt and pepper.
In the same stockpot where the pork was browned, add 2 TBSP olive oil, along with the garlic and onions. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are transparent and fragrant. As the onions are cooking, use a wooden spatula to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the stockpot and mix with the garlic and onions. After the onions have cooked for a few minutes, the browned bits should come off the bottom of the pan easily.
Add the reserved pork and chicken.
Add the chicken stock.
Add the tomatoes and Hatch canned chiles.
Add the cumin.
Add the browned/grilled/steeped/chopped chiles that were prepared earlier.
Bring slowly to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
At this point, I did opt for the additional 2 cups of chicken stock, for a total of 6 cups.
Serve hot with/over tortilla chips & cheddar cheese. (Arizona style!) with crumbled tortilla chips, then the green chile, and 4-cheese Mexican blend on top.