Monday, October 31, 2005

Green Chile Stew

Our friend Demi and her family came over to celebrate her birthday. One of the things Demi enjoyed the most from her college days in Santa Fe was the food, especially having a nice bowl of Green Chile Stew, so Debbie decided to make it for Demi's dinner. The place to start when making this dish is, not surprisingly, the green chiles--lots of them, and they should preferably be New Mexico chiles, not Anaheim chiles. Fortunately for the sake of our stew, the chile guy at Pike Place market had fresh green New Mexico chiles that he grows in eastern Washington. The first thing to do with them is to roast them. Some people roast them on the stove, but we like to do it over charcoal, both because it gives a nice flavor and because there are a lot of chiles to roast, and it would take forever on the stove.

Chiles Roasting

They should be roasted until they blacken and blister. Once they're done, they should steam in a plastic bag for a little while, and then they get peeled and seeded. It was a beautiful afternoon on Saturday, so Debbie was able to do it all sitting outside in the sun.

Roasted and Peeled Chiles

Once that's done, the rest of it is pretty straightforward: brown some lean cubed pork (we used pork shoulder), cook some onions until soft, add some garlic, diced tomatoes, pork, diced potatoes, cover with water, and cook for about 3 hours.

We started by munching on some Mole Sausage from Salumi, and I made some Margaritas (in a martini style, i.e. shaken and strained--4 parts tequila, 1 part grand marnier, 1 part meyer lemon simple syrup, juice of 2 key limes.)

For an appetizer I made quesadillas. A real quesadilla is not just a flour-and-cheese sandwich. You start with 1lb of masa, which is the stuff you make corn tortillas out of. I was too lazy to travel across the seas to get fresh masa, so I made it using masa harina. Add 3 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1 Tbsp lard and knead it for about 5 minutes, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Make walnut-sized balls, flatten them out in a tortilla press until they're about 4" round, put a blob of filling on top, fold over, and seal. I decided to do something different, and filled most of them with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. The rest I filled with "mexican cheese mix" from Safeway, so that the kids might eat some. The filled quesadillas then get deep fried until they're golden. The dough was a bit fragile; I don't think I kneaded it quite long enough. The goat cheese and sun-dried tomato "California Quesadilla" was pretty good, although it's essential to get the quesadilla fully sealed, otherwise the sun-dried tomato gets fried, and it turns black and chewy. We served them with guacamole and salsa, though I kind of liked the goat cheese ones as they were.

For dessert Debbie made the world-famous Chocolate Ancho Chile and Orange Cake from the Chronicle cookbook. There's just enough ancho chile flavor to make the flavors really deep, but not enough to make it hot. Even the kids present loved it, except the youngest, who refused it on principle.