It’s a blustery winter’s night. The snow is falling, wind is howling through the treetops, and a fire is roaring in the wood stove. The only thing missing to round out the quintessential Tahoe storm night is the perfect meal to warm your bones, so turn up the heat this season and indulge with these hearty dishes.

The first is my sister Marissa’s recipe for Hatch green chile stew, what she calls “classic New Mexico comfort food.” She lives in Taos and says that, contrary to what many people think, it does snow in northern New Mexico, although most Tahoe ski bums would be well-aware of that. Fall is chile-roasting season, so the stew is typically associated with colder weather. When the skiing goes off in Taos, it’s the perfect way to warm up after a day on the mountain. The key to her recipe is to use Hatch chiles. If you’re unable to find frozen, jarred also works. And feel free to kick it up a notch and skip the mild in favor of hot.

Secondly, I offer a chili recipe fit for a cold winter’s day but that makes enough to feed your Super Bowl party guests. I tend to go overboard and cook enough to feed an army because I like to have leftovers. I can’t help it; I take after my grandfather. But unlike myself, my Gramps really did cook for an army of soldiers and continued to do so for our family long after WWII. I’m also guilty of being one of those cooks who doesn’t measure, so sharing this recipe was the perfect excuse to whip up a pot of chili on a crisp Friday afternoon to figure out the numbers. If you’re not feeding a Super Bowl party-sized crowd — or an army — feel free to halve the recipe. A great time-saving trick is to hit the produce section at Safeway and grab three packs of their pre-sliced tricolor peppers and two containers of diced onions.

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Both of these recipes taste even better the next day, after the flavors set in more deeply. They also are perfect for freezing to enjoy at a later date. And the chili can easily be made into a vegetarian version by cutting out the bacon and Worcestershire and swapping the beef with a meat alternative.

Hatch green chile stew

2 Tbs olive oil
2 lbs pork stew meat, chopped finely
1 onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 potatoes, diced
1 1-lb, 12-oz container of mild
frozen Hatch green chile (Bueno brand if possible)
2 32-oz containers of chicken broth
instant mashed potatoes (to thicken), salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large stock pot. Add meat and brown. Add onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chile and broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and let simmer until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle in just enough instant mashed potatoes to thicken while stirring constantly. Serve with fresh warm flour tortillas.

SCENTFUL SAUTÉ: The fragrance alone of the sautéing bacon, peppers, and onions will have your stomach growling. Photo by Juliana Demarest/Moonshine Ink

Red Chili

1 lb. bacon
3-4 lbs ground beef
9 peppers (3 each of green, red, and yellow)
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, pressed
8 Tbs. maple syrup
4 Tbs. oregano, dried
4 Tbs. chili powder
4 Tbs. thyme, dried
4 Tbs. cumin
3 Tbs. Worcesteshire sauce
2 Tbs. hot pepper sauce
16 oz beer (any pale ale gives a nice flavor)
1 28-oz can tomato puree
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 28-oz can, plus one kidney beans

Render bacon in a large stockpot, while browning the ground beef in a frying pan. Once bacon is crisped, add in onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add in peppers and cook a few minutes until they begin to soften, then stir in maple syrup.

Sprinkle in seasonings one by one, stirring well after each addition. (I prefer to taste what I’m eating so I go easy on the hot sauce; adjust those quantities to your taste.) Pour in beer and let simmer 5 minutes then add puree and crushed and diced tomatoes, followed by kidney beans. Simmer at least one hour, but the longer it cooks, the richer the flavor, so I prefer to let it simmer on low heat for around 3 hours. Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with cornbread or any crusty loaf. If you feel like going the extra mile, give your chili the perfect companion and whip up a batch of Red Lobster cheddar biscuit mix sold in grocery stores.


Main Image Caption: Hot Stuff: Warm up after a long day on the hill with a steaming bowl of hearty chili, topped with shredded cheddar and served with cornbread or any crusty loaf. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

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