Monday, February 27, 2012

Got To Get You Into My Life



I love getting exciting about a new food especially when it contains peppers! Southwestern and Mexican ingredients are simple and few but sometimes something comes along and its as if you're looking at those same elements through a prism. When I heard my sister R talking about green chile sauce with pork on my trip to Colorado I was intrigued. We ordered a dish from a local Italian slash Mexican restaurant named Victorio's they called Mexican Lasagna where this sauce was laid over the dish. They used ground pork. Hmmm...sounded strange but upon tasting I sort of fell in love. And the look was different than anything I'd eaten out here in NY or in San Francisco.

When I returned home I began to do research and it seems that that area became very famous for it's green chile's especially down in Hatch, New Mexico and then something happened with the crops and others started growing similar peppers in Pueblo etc. They also experimented and grew several varieties out there, hybrids, its intense. Well this mild to hot chili had a great distinct flavor when roasted and folks did some cool things with it out in Pueblo.
Then you get into the Green Chile Sauce versus Green Chili to which there are tons of various recipes but these are two disconnected dishes. Anywho, I was looking for this gravy like sauce that included pork and red tomatoes, nothing like a green chili or even pork chile verde. Then I discovered the 'Slopper', which is a now famous burger covered with this pork infused green chile sauce that was featured on the Travel Channel's Food Wars in 2010. This was it, the sauce! It originated in Pueblo it seems.
It wasn't that easy finding a recipe but reading several of them, you see its a simple sauce and the main difference is that it starts with a roux. You don't have to spice it up too much, mainly garlic and cumin and you let the flavor of the roasted pepper do the main work here. A good, rich chicken stock also is key to bringing the magic as the pork stews in the stock to become tender and also adds its own rich flavor. I worked with this recipe...www.food.com/recipe/chriss-pueblo-green-chili-sauce-21076 because it sounded closest to what I had tasted in Colorado City. My sister said what we had wasn't even the best she'd had at all, so I had to imagine the flavors much deeper. And I could. Oh yeah, I could imagine deeper richer, pork, gravy, ooooooooh.......
It took a bit but I found good peppers from Met Food on Smith because all their produce guys are Mexican and they always have fresh tomatillos, and several varieties of peppers, the best cilantro. Whoever the buyer is, he knows what he's doing. These were hotter than I expected and there is a chance they come from New Jersey but I had to work with them. I added a couple of Poblano's because I know their roasted taste is close. These peppers are a bit more work to roast and peel as they are skinnier and you use a lot of them. I can see why many people buy them frozen and ready to go in and around Pueblo.
I sauteed the onions and garlic, then added the flour and spices for the roux, let that darken and become cooked. I slowly added the chicken stock until smooth then the diced, seeded, peeled, roasted peppers and Rotel tomatoes with chiles. The pork I browned in batches before adding to the sauce. Brought this to a boil then simmered until the pork was tender and all the parts became one.
This is something to try folks, no kiddin'. You think you've heard it all but man then here comes this skinny green chili that has a lot to say. This sauce would be amazing poured over your dirty socks people! I made some crisped chicken and zucchini tacos and just poured that sauce right on over. P said words like Damn! and Holy shit! so I knew I wasn't nuts. This is going in regular rotation and even though I'm all the way out here in New York City no where near the West, I now have this emotional connection to this pepper and will continue with the spirit of the West, experimenting and hopefully creating new traditions.

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