When it comes to food, there are few things more divisive than regional variations of a dish. In our neck of the woods, green chili is the dish that can divide families. Read on to find out how you’re doing it wrong.
Welcome to Colorful Colorado! We have mountains, deserts, legal weed, and Subaru Outbacks aplenty. Above all we have the holy grail of all foods, a creation that could have only been conceived by some generous divine entity or a super genius abuela with taste buds that could silence Gordon Ramsey: pork green chili.
Even though there haven’t been as many wars fought over green chili as say, salt or crude oil, it has torn families apart and brought the toughest stoics to tears. Now if you are from New Mexico, you’re probably about to spit out your crummy beer and stomp around like you guys are the keepers of capsaicin, but guess what, it’s all love. Despite the great Hatch-Pueblo debate and the Hatfield and McCoy mentality it brings, we have common ground. Be you from Albuquerque or Olathe we all feel the need to smother, cover and dredge everything in this spicy savory concoction.
Now I could go on for hours about the history of the peppers themselves, or about the Scoville units and textures of different varieties, but I am going to just break down what makes a top-notch pork green chili in my eyes.
My background and what makes my opinion infomed goes as follows.
I was born and raised in green chili country. Every single member of my family, and all my friends, has some variation of the stew. Each holds a heavyweight title in regard to their technique. I, on the other hand, just took bits and pieces from all of their recipes to eventually develop what I think to be the perfect bowl
Frankly, I’m obsessed.
No matter the restaurant I touch down in, if I see it on the menu, it’s going to be ordered and dissected with a judging palette.
First things first, the peppers. Now it doesn’t matter if you use Pueblo, Hatch, Big Jim, Poblano, or Anaheim, that’s just personal preference [editor note: the official policy of Wayfinder is that hatch chilis are very much inferior to Pueblo chilis]. They do have to be fresh peppers, roasted over high heat until they crackle, pop, and blister creating a slimy texture and promoting an earthy, smokey flavor. Canned green chili from the market is just a poor substitute for the real thing. No matter how many times they slap the word Hatch on the label, the blanching and canning process robs the flavor.
The next part might not make everyone happy, but sorry vegetarians, it’s not called broccoli green chili and we shouldn’t play God when it comes to her creation. I put massive chunks of pork in mine, two inches thick at least and nothing lean. Always use butt or shoulder roasts or something with some marbling because fat is flavor. Save the tenderloin for that Rachel Ray teriyaki recipe your in-laws sent you on Facebook. More often than not when I get a bowl from a restaurant they skimp on the pork and it severely deprives the flavor profile and composition. Every ingredient plays a role in the symphony on your spoon, so I repeat, put some damn meat in it!
Thirdly, the thickness of your dish matters. I dredge my pork in a generous amount of flour and spice then brown it in too much oil to create a roux of sorts. It makes my chili stick to the spoon and envelops whatever I choose to bathe in it. I know people that prefer theirs thin and wimpy, but I just can’t stomach the sight of that - it’s a stew not a soup PERIOD.
Lastly, tortillas. This is not Texas red chili, and so cornbread should be nowhere near this meal. You can dab sour cream on top, add a squeeze of lime, sprinkle some cilantro, and melt some cheese on top, but nothing beats cleaning your bowl with a warm tortilla.
Oh and here is a protip. I put Coors in mine because no one likes to drink alone.