Field Notes

Master Class: Green Chili & Pork Stew

In the hearts of New Mexicans, green chili stew is a totem of home. And like any symbolic dish, there are endless conflicting opinions about the “proper” preparations.  

The stew’s foundation is, of course, green chilies, preferably Hatch variety. Indigenous to New Mexico and named for the valley in which they are grown, Hatch chiles range in heat level from mild to medium, with a clean, vegetal flavor. They’re available fresh from mid to late summer, and many specialty stores carry canned Hatch chilies year-round.

Beyond chilies, though, the name of the game is creative license. Many recipes call for pork, though some suggest ground beef or even chicken. Potatoes are common, though not required. Some recipes suggest serving the stew over rice, but when we inquired with a few New Mexican friends, they were vehemently against that idea, insisting that only corn tortillas can accompany the dish.

In our research (and subsequent testing of various recipes), one crucial technique emerged: this recipe relies on time, first with slow-roasting the chilies themselves, and then with letting the stew simmer over the course of several hours. It’s a dish to undertake on a lazy Sunday, when you can check on it periodically, then step away to read a book, answer emails, catch up on the latest episode of Mad Man.

We’ll be sharing the full recipe on Wednesday, but first, here’s a primer on roasting fresh chili peppers, something that forms the basis of multiple recipes, from harissa [link] to pimento cheese.

When it comes to actually roasting the pepper, there are a few options:

Oven Method

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spread the peppers out on the sheet. Roast under the broiler element of the oven for 10 minutes, then give the peppers a quarter turn and continue to roast. Repeat until the peppers are charred on all sides.

Gas Stovetop Method

Turn a burner on the highest setting and set a pepper over the flames. Let roast, turning with tongs frequently, until the pepper is blackened on all sides.

Grill Method

Place the pepper over the grill grate as close to the heat source as possible. Grill, turning with tongs frequently, until the pepper is blackened on all sides. This method will impart the peppers with a smoky element.

Once you’ve roasted your pepper, it’s time to remove the skins:

Immediately transfer the roasted peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let steam for 10 minutes to loosen the skins.

Use a paper towel to gently rub the skins off the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container until ready for use.

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The Chili Pepper Field Guide is a growing knowledge base exploring the diverse flavors of chili peppers from around the world. We welcome your thoughts and content suggestions via email or social media using hashtag #chililab