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Monday, October 4, 2010

Got Green Tomatoes? Roast Them For Chile Verde

I usually don't cook a lot of southwestern or Mexican dishes.  Lately, I have had  the ingredients on hand and the umph to do it.

Our tomato jungle is still producing gorgeous plump tomatoes. The ripening process has slowed a bit with the cooler weather. Consequently, we have many more green tomatoes than bright red ripe ones.  With so many of them out back, I decided I would cook them. With yesterday being a cool grey lazy Sunday, I wanted to make something that could simmer all day.  Fried green tomatoes didn't fit the bill. Even though I have fried everything under the sun this summer, I just wasn't in the mood for fried green tomatoes.

After the last summer's tomato blight, I ended up canning most of the unripened green tomatoes into chow chow, pickled greens tomatoes, and green tomato salsa verde.  Although, they are very different plants with very different characteristics, green tomatoes are not a bad substitute for tomatillos in Mexican cooking.

Chile Verde.  Perfect.
It was very straightforward and fairly traditional. I combined  ingredients for New Mexico Green Chili with those of Mexican Chile Verde for a hybrid chili....or stew.

I broiled Anaheim and poblano chiles until they were charred and blackened before tossing them in a bag to steam and soften.  While they self-steamed, I roasted seasoned halved green tomatoes, sliced onions, and peeled garlic until they collapsed and caramelized.

I peeled the skin off the charred peppers and scraped the seeds away.  Though some might rinse the seeds under running water, I didn't want to wash away the smoky flavor. When the tomatoes, onions, and garlic were cooked and softened, I coursely pureed them with the peppers until blended.

I chose big fat country style pork ribs for the stew.  They were easier to manipulate and to slice into one inch cubes before sauteing in olive oil until browned.  After they browned, I added the tomato pepper puree,  2 cups of chicken stock, cumin, ancho chile powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.  I plopped a lid over the dutch oven and let the stew simmer for 3 hours.

2 hours into the stove-top braise, I dropped in diced Delicata winter squash, diced new potatoes, chopped green bell peppers, and quartered red tomatoes to simmer uncovered for another hour. The house smelled amazing as the stew bubbled and reduced into a thick chunky chili.

Thankfully, at some point during the cooking process, I realized the chili was going to be way too spicy hot for Michael.  I kept tasting it and tasting it.  I knew it was totally not going to work for him.  The long braise afforded me the time to whip  up a milder pot of red chili that he could actually enjoy eating. I made it in the exact manner as the green chili, but used san marzano tomatoes in place of the fiery chiles.  Thank God.

I filled my bowl with the New Mexico Green Mexican Chile Verde, topped it with a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, minced fresh green peppers, and a shower of cojita cheese.  I finished Michael's bowl of red the same way.

It was incredibly spicy, even for me.  I squirt Sriracha sauce straight from the bottle into my  mouth and suck Tobasco sauce from the tiny jar opening.  I know and like hot stuff.  It. Was. Spicy.

I loved it.  I loved the many-layered levels of flavor.  The sweet soft butternut-like Delicata squash tempered the heat with richness while the fatty pork offered up an unctous luxurious mouthfeel.  With welcome relief, the tangy sour cream and cojita cheese tamed the stew with tart creaminess. Cilantro added bright freshness while crisp minced green peppers crunched with tiny wet pepper bursts. Fantastic.

 Even through that fine line between pleasure and pain, I couldn't stop eating it.

Got green tomatoes?  Go ahead, roast them.!

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