In New Mexico, Colorado, and even parts of west Texas, chili is more likely to be green than red. Nowhere is this more true than in New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, renowned for its peppers. Roasted, chopped chilies of varying heat levels show up in every dish imaginable. Here is a straightforward chili stew, made with pork, onions, and garlic, plus a favorite addition of mine, tart roasted tomatillos. In lieu of ordering frozen roasted chilies online, I use peppers common in New England — poblanos, cubanelles, and serranos.
Warm tortillas, rice, and beans are often served alongside, but I switch things up with a fresh loaf of easy beer and cheese bread. Finally, nut brittle with a Southwest inflection makes a nice sweet to wrap up the meal.
Chili Verde (New Mexico-Style Roasted Green Chili, Tomatillo, and Pork Stew)
Makes about 2 quarts; serves 6
Poblano chilies, the backbone of this dish, are mild but occasionally pack more punch. I suggest tasting your roasted poblanos before deciding how much serrano to add. If the poblanos are mild, I generally add 2 serranos, leaving the ribs and seeds in one half to give the dish a kick. This recipe doubles pretty easily: Brown the pork in more batches, saute the onions for about 9 minutes, and bake the stew for 3 to 3½ hours.
1½ pounds poblano peppers (about 8 medium), charred, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 pound cubanelle peppers (about 4 medium), charred, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
12 ounces fresh tomatillos, husked, halved, broiled until softened (about 10 minutes), and cooled
12 medium garlic cloves, peeled and broiled until blistered (about 10 minutes), plus 1 tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 large cloves)
1 to 3 large serrano chilies, halved and seeded if desired
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, plus about 1/3 cup finely chopped leaves, for garnish
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder/butt, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks (about 3½ pounds prepped)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, or more, as necessary
With the rack in the lower-middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the poblanos, cubanelles, tomatillos, blistered garlic cloves, serranos, and whole cilantro leaves in a food processor, pulse to a rough puree, 4 or 5 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 cups), and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the pork with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to coat. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the pork in a single layer (keep a little space between the pieces) and cook until browned, about 7 minutes, turning the pieces over once halfway through; transfer the pork to a medium bowl. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the pot and repeat to cook remaining pork (adjusting the heat if the fond threatens to burn); transfer to the bowl with the first batch.
Return the pot to the burner, adjust heat to medium, and add the remaining oil. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pressed garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the chicken broth, adjust the heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer, occasionally stirring and scraping the pot to dissolve the fond, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked pork with accumulated juices and the chili-tomatillo puree and return to a strong simmer. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue baking until the chili is thickened and the pork is very tender, 1 to 1½ hours longer, replacing the lid fully or partially after 1 hour if desired.
Off heat, rest the chili for about 15 minutes and, with a spoon or wad of paper towels, remove as much of the melted fat from the surface as possible. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, and reheat, if necessary. Serve hot, sprinkling with chopped cilantro.
Beer and Cheese Bread
Makes 1 9-inch loaf
Even with a nonstick loaf pan, the cheese can cause this bread to stick mercilessly when you try to turn out the loaf. Lining the pan with parchment creates a sling to aid in removing the loaf. Different types of beer produce a milder or stronger flavor. I liked Narragansett lager, which provided a gentle beer flavor that worked nicely with the cheese. An IPA was more pronounced, and Budweiser was so mild I barely detected it.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper
6 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar, cut into 3/8-inch cubes, plus 5 ounces, coarsely grated (about 11/3 cups)
1 12-ounce bottle beer of choice
1½ tablespoons butter, melted
With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch nonstick loaf pan with nonstick baking spray. Cut 2 pieces of parchment to fit neatly in the pan, line the pan (there should be a couple of inches of overhang on both the long and short sides), smoothing the parchment up the sides. Spray the parchment with more nonstick baking spray, set the pan on a small rimmed baking sheet, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to combine. Add the cheese cubes and toss to coat with dry mixture and distribute. Add 1 cup of the grated cheese and toss to coat and distribute. Add the beer and, using a flexible spatula, mix to combine and form a lumpy batter (do not overmix). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and work it into the corners. Pour the melted butter evenly over it, and bake until deep golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Halfway through baking time, rotate the pan and evenly sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top of the loaf. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes. Grasp the parchment and lift the loaf out of the pan, place it on the rack, and cool to room temperature. Remove parchment, slice with a serrated knife, and serve.
WHERE’S THE HEAT?
Pinon-Pepita Brittle with Cinnamon and Ancho
Makes about 1 pound (roughly 4 cups of 1½- to 2-inch pieces)
The cinnamon and ancho lend a warm nuance rather than a strong flavor, allowing the buttery pinons (pine nuts) and earthy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to shine. Use pure ancho chili powder, without added seasonings.
As soon as the sugar mixture is cooked, the process moves quickly, so make sure to have the other ingredients measured and mixed, and your equipment, including a rolling pin and ruler, handy. You’ll need a wide, flat surface to roll out the warm brittle mixture. If you use a baking sheet, choose one without rims — they get in the way of the rolling pin.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure ancho powder
Pinch cayenne ¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup pine nuts, toasted lightly and cooled
¾ cup pepitas, toasted lightly and cooled
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spray a large sheet of parchment and a heat-resistant flexible spatula with nonstick cooking spray; place the parchment on a large flat surface or large baking sheet, preferably without rims, and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, ancho powder, cayenne, baking soda, and ¾ teaspoon salt to blend, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the pine nuts and pepitas to blend, and set aside.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and ¼ cup water in a heavy medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and allow the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir with a spoon) to blend the ingredients, about 3 minutes. The mixture will be foamy. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, and moving pan off heat if foam threatens to overflow, until the foam appears golden, 9 to 10 minutes longer.
Adjust heat to medium-low. Working very quickly, add the spice mixture and vanilla and, using the prepared spatula, stir to mix. Add the nut mixture and fold into the sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Immediately scrape the mixture onto the parchment and use the prepared spatula to spread it into a roughly even layer. With a rolling pin, roll the mixture into a roughly 12-by-12-inch square, about ¼ inch or less thick. Set aside to cool and harden fully, about 40 minutes. With a paper towel, wipe any residual cooking spray off the surface and break the sheet of brittle into 1½- to 2-inch pieces. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.