Arizona-Style Green Chile

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g1Ahh…Arizona Green Chile…the true gold of the southwestern region of the U.S.!

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) I met my then soon-to-be wife Evelyn, who was raised in the small copper-mining town of Miami, Arizona, about an hour east of Phoenix.  She took me to a small restaurant that she used to frequent in her growing-up years, “Guayos El Rey” on Main St.  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.

And from this wonderful palatal region, and coming from Evelyn’s Arizona hertitage, is the essential green chile that she grew up with.  Which is the origin 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 her original recipe, but the credit for this mouth-watering south of the border delight is all hers.

Arizona-Style Green Chile

Ingredients:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts  – or – 1-3 lbs pork  – or – 1/2 of both – 2 chicken breasts & about 2 lbs of pork.  (The recipe works well no matter which you choose)
4 TBSP EVOO
1 TBSP salt
1 tsp pepper
1 TBSP ground cumin
12 cloves garlic, diced
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
7 jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped
3 anaheim peppers, coarsely chopped
3 yellow hot peppers, coarsely chopped
3 habenero peppers, coarsely chopped (small ones..if larger, be careful you might only want to use 2)
6-8 tomatillos, cleaned & rinsed, coarsely chopped
4 poblano peppers, coarsely chopped
1 large can (27oz) whole green chiles, coarsely chopped
4-6 cups chicken broth (use more or less depending on how “soupy” you want the chili to be
2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes, any kind
additional salt & pepper as desired
Parsley – as needed

*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!!

Preparation:
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Roast all the peppers/tomatillos either in the oven or on a BBQ grill. (I prefer the grill)
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When they are thoroughly roasted (skin will be somewhat blackened but not burnt) put them into a large shallow pan while still hot and cover with aluminum foil or saran wrap.
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While the chile peppers are steeping, prepare the meat for cooking.
For this particular iteration I chose a combination of pork tenderloin and chicken breasts.
First, season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of parsley, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
When done, set aside and allow to cool.
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If necessary, remove any fat from the pork, then cut into a rough dice/chunks, and season with salt and pepper.

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Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a minimum 4-5 qt sized stockpot on medium-high heat until you can see ripples in the oil and begin to smell the fragrance.  (I also like to use my 12-qt so I can be sure I have plenty of room.)
Brown the pork in batches, do not overcrowd.  If the stockpot is tall/deep, I find using the BBQ tongs is easier.
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While the pork is browning, shred the chicken.
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Set the shredded chicken aside along with the pork as it is browned.
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By now the chile peppers should have steeped for at least 30 minutes. (longer is better) Peel the blackened skin off, then cut them up according to ingredient specifications. 
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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.

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Add the reserved pork and chicken.

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Add the chicken stock.

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Add the tomatoes and Hatch canned chiles.

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Add the cumin.

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Add the browned/grilled/steeped/chopped chiles that were prepared earlier.

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Bring slowly to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

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At this point, I did opt for the additional 2 quarts of chicken stock, for a total of 6 quarts.

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Serve hot with/over tortilla chips & cheddar cheese. (Arizona style!)  Evelyn likes hers with crumbled tortilla chips, then the green chile, and 4-cheese Mexican blend on top.

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My style is more like layering the chile with fried corn tortillas and some sharp cheddar cheese.
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Regardless of how you like it served, it will definitely be a “Buon Provecho” moment! (May your meal be of good benefit!!)
The green chile can also be refrigerated overnight before serving, and then re-heated.  This will meld all the flavors even more nicely.  Also keeps well in the fridge for 7-10 days.  It can be frozen easily for later use.
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Adapted from Evelyn’s homemade recipe!
 
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