Friday, 19 October 2007

I grew up in northern New Mexico. Green chile was everywhere, and found in everything. I remember for a while my dad was on this kick where he dreamed up all kinds of green-chile-in-it dishes. Random, crazy stuff like green chile pancakes and  ... well ... you name it. He had a condition where he couldn't taste much of anything, so I think it was the texture and spice that he liked. Anyhow, long story short: For the longest time I was completely burned out on green chiles.

Then I moved away from the area, and slowly the desire to eat good New Mexican food with green chiles in it returned. By far the best green chile in the whole wide world is from Hatch, New Mexico - a small farming town that's fairly close to where I grew up (well, close in a New Mexico sort of way). There is no debate on this one, by the way. Hatch chile is the best chile. Period.

The other day I decided to make some posole (my current recipe for which is below), and I used chiles in a can from the local (meaning Oregon-based) Safeway store. the posole turned out good, but honestly the green chile leaves a lot to be desired. I was spoiled, ruined, and spoiled again as a kid by Hatch.

I went online yesterday morning to the Hatch Chile Express web site at www.hatch-chile.com and ordered 14 pounds of roasted, peeled, diced and frozen Hatch green chiles from the Chile Capital of the World. You can also get whole chiles there, but unless you're making rellenos there's no point - Get diced and save the hassle of cutting and tossing out parts.

Today, almost exactly 24 hours later, the box arrived via FedEx. The shipment was very carefully and well-packaged, in a strong container with Styrofoam insulation and a frozen cold pack inside, and the 14 one-pound bags of chile were still perfectly frozen and went straight to my chest freezer (after some inspection and sampling of the goods, of course). I ordered mostly medium (since that's what I usually cook with) plus a few bags of hot and mild for good measure. Just the smell of this frozen chile confirmed I'd made a good decision.

Not often I get excited about putting food in my freezer, but as weird as it may sound I was excited today. Hatch chile is that good.

I also ordered some mild and medium variety seed for planting next spring (although the climate here will likely make for a challenging growing season). They threw in a book of recipes (which includes instructions for roasting the chiles if I can get them to grow) as well as several dish options and a handwritten note on the invoice about the varieties I had requested. It's nice to know you're interacting with a real, live person. :)

If you want the best green chile the world has to offer, you go to Hatch, New Mexico. If you can't get to Hatch, then you go online to Hatch Chile Express at www.hatch-chile.com -- and you'll be glad you did. By the way, you can also order wreaths, ristras and a bunch of other cool looking holiday-season stuff there. Highly recommended, check them out. And no, they're not paying me to say that - I am just that impressed and I think if someone sells something great, letting others know is a good thing to do. These are local farmers, actually in Hatch (not some large reseller in some city somewhere), and it's a family-run business. Their phone number and email address are on the web page. There's really no better way to do business.

Here’s my updated and current Posole recipe (an edited version of the one I posted here in 2004), archived here for myself so I won’t lose it, and for anyone else who’s interested and wants to try it:

  • Two #10 cans (108oz) Hominy (Juanita's or a similar Mexican style preferred, fresh or frozen/bagged is even better)
  • Two large yellow onions, sliced and cut up (not diced)
  • One tablespoon (or so) minced/chopped garlic
  • One teaspoon dry oregano (Mexican oregano if you can get it)
  • One envelope/package menudo spice mix (a few ounces, optional)
  • One quart (or less if you prefer) of frozen or canned green chiles, diced, preferably hot or medium strength (do not use jalapenos – use real green chile)
  • Salt (plenty)
  • Pepper (plenty)
  • Two pork tenderloins, about 4-5 pounds each
  • Olive oil

In a large stock pot (16 to 20 quarts size), combine the hominy, onions, garlic, oregano, and green chile. Fill with water to cover the ingredients, plus a little more (don’t get too worried about the water – just make sure it’s pretty full). Salt and pepper the heck out of it, and plan to do so again later. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil while preparing the meat.

Cut the pork into small cubes or similar shape pieces (like you can cut pork into cubes, yeah…).In a frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the pork slowly, adding some salt and pepper to the meat.

After browning the pork, add it to the stock pot contents, and stir the meat in.Once it boils, turn the heat back to simmer the stuff. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stir, and boil again. Do this twice, then simmer again on low heat.

Now comes the hard part – leave it alone until the cows come home, stirring about every 30 minutes. Keep it on low heat, just enough to bubble a little, to avoid burning the food at the bottom of the pot. "Until the cows come home" translates loosely to anywhere between say five or six hours and overnight (depending on what time you start, I suppose). Trust me – let it cook down, it needs it. Add some water as needed to keep the stock covered. It will thicken up a bit as it goes.

And don’t be stingy with the salt and pepper in this recipe – you’ll need it. You will probably find you need to add some salt while cooking one or more times. Stir it in and cook for a few minutes, then stir again and taste.

Serve with tortillas, and if you want grate a little cheese on top when you serve it up.



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Friday, 19 October 2007 11:12:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Friday, 19 October 2007 12:37:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Drat. I'm from Portland, Oregon (last five years anyway) and I find myself in Albuquerque, NM this weekend. Hatch is a few hours south of us; a little too far to go and still hit the wedding. Amen for the Internet, http://www.hatch-chile.com/.
Friday, 19 October 2007 13:02:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Updated to include the recipe I forgot to put in there. :)

@Andrew - yeah it's a bit of a hike to get there. But while in Albuquerque there's lots of places you can go (almost any grocery store) and pick up frozen bags very easily, as well as good canned Hatch chile. Or order from the same people I did!
Saturday, 20 October 2007 20:49:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
This is freakin' hilarious. 6 years ago when I started at Microsoft, my boss at the time, had cans of this stuff around his office. When I asked him about it, he went off on how this stuff was the only green chiles you should ever eat.

6 years later, I'm reading your blog. Life is funny sometimes :)
Sunday, 21 October 2007 08:28:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Trev - What else was your boss absolutely correct about? Heh.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 12:27:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
You think you got problems. I'm stuck in Germany, try to substitute sauer kraut, for green chiles in your food.

They have two kinds of chiles here, mild (green) and hot (red & not hot).

If I ask for something else they just stare at me like I am a nut or tell you to wait just a minute and come back with green pepper for a pepper grinder. They have three spices they use for everything: Salt, Pepper & Onions, period.
Starving in Europe
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