In late summer in Colorado and New Mexico, there are chile roasters on busy street corners and if you haven’t the time or inclination to buy and roast your own chiles, this is the place you stop for our homegrown goodness. The aromas wafting around the intersections will call you even if you haven’t seen a roaster in years. Can’t eat them all right away–just warmed and layered with cheese, eaten with tortillas or tortilla chips? Then it’s time to gently tuck the chiles into small or large containers and freeze them for winter cooking.
Come cold weather, I like to pile up a big slow cooker full of sliced fresh salted and peppered pork loin, chopped onions and garlic, sliced or canned tomatoes, and the thawed or still frozen roasted chiles. At the end of a snowy day, we hit a fresh tortilla place on the way home and walk into the house full of blasting hot southwest aromas hitting us in the face. Tortillas go in the oven and a big bowl of pork and chiles is ladled out for each person. Time to sit down to summer complete with a cold beer. Meanwhile, we watch the wind whip down out of the mountains, screaming cold, cold, cold. Yes, it’s rather heavenly-sounding, isn’t it?
But winter’s way down the road, right? Summer bounty is here and it’s time to enjoy whatever you can make with the fresh chiles while they’re available. People often throw them all into the same bag called “Hatch chiles,” but Hatch is simply a place in New Mexico. We grow super chiles–several varieties– right down the road in Pueblo, Colorado.
I roasted my own poblanos on the gas stovetop today while I made the two-potato stew. By the way, we also grow a lot of potatoes in Colorado right down in the San Luis Valley; scroll down for more info on our great spuds.
(Scroll down for roasting info–just watch them like a hawk is my only added instruction.)
If you’re a chile lover, mlld, hot, or indifferent, try this:
COLORADO TWO-POTATO STEW WITH ROASTED CHILES AND CHEESE
serves 6 (easily doubled)
A fast and filling inexpensive stew full of gorgeous local ingredients, it’s gluten-free and easily vegan. Skip bold green ingredients for vegan version.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (or to taste)
- 4 leeks, white parts only, well-cleaned and sliced thinly (can sub an additional 2 Colorado sweet onions)
- 1 large sweet Colorado onion, chopped
- 1 each: large stalk chopped celery and large chopped carrot
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 each peeled and diced (1/2-inch) large San Luis Valley white potatoes (such as russets) and sweet potatoes or use all sweet potatoes, if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and chili powder*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine (can sub water or broth)
- 1 cup water
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, gluten-free
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
- Garnish with chopped roasted chiles (I like poblanos**), crumbled goat or grated cheddar cheese, a small spoonful of sour cream. and a wedge of lime to squeeze over all.
- Other great garnishes: chopped cilantro, tomatoes or avocados, sliced green onions, finely diced cucumbers, tortilla chips
In an 8-quart heavy soup pot, heat oil and crushed red chiles for a few seconds over medium-high flame; add leeks, onions, celery, carrot, garlic. Let cook until beginning to soften–about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Throw in potatoes and add cumin, chili or chile powder, salt, and pepper. Lower heat and let cook until starting to brown and become crispy at the bottom; continue stirring. Pour in wine, bring to a boil, and scrape up all of the bits from the bottom of the pot. Add water and broth; bring to a boil again. Reduce to simmer and cook until everything is tender–no more than 20 minutes. Add corn and cook another 3-4 minutes until done. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with desired garnishes in bowls at the table.
*If you like more heat, use chile rather than chili powder, but perhaps try an eighth of a teaspoon first. Taste before adding more.
**Poblanos are often rather mild chiles, but occasionally can be quite hot. Taste before roasting. You can also used canned chopped chiles in a pinch, of course.
GLUTEN-FREE NOTE: Check ingredient labels on any purchased ingredients.
OUR SOUTHWEST POTATOES and CHILES
WINE: While a really cold New Mexico or Colorado white wine would be lovely, this might also be beer fare.
DESSERT: You might be too full, but if it’s cool a cinnamon hot chocolate jacked up with a little swig of Kahlua and/or a dollop of whipped cream might go down a treat.
Sing a new song; roast your chiles, honey,