Tag Archives: Cold Weather Food

Scratch Made Chile Verde

With the weather having turned cold, I made some homemade from scratch chile verde to fight back against the cold weather. 🙂

It took some searching to find an authentic, made from scratch version of the recipe. Too many were canned this and canned that. Blah! I finally found one on NoRecipes.com (a jab at AllRecipes.com perhaps?), and am reproducing it here along with a few notes about what worked and what didn’t.

The Recipe:

3 Large Poblano Chili Peppers

2 Medium Anaheim Chili Peppers

3 Large Jalapeño peppers

6 Cloves of Garlic, Unpeeled (Yes, UNpeeled)

1 Extra Large White or Yellow Onion, peeled and quartered

2 2/3 Lbs (1200 grams) of Tomatillo Peppers (roughly 20 bigger ones)

An ounce (25 grams) of fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

3 3/4 Lbs (1700 grams) of pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch (5cm) cubes

4 Cups of low sodium Chicken Stock

2 Teaspoons of Honey

1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of Cumin

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Salt

More Cilantro and Cotija Cheese for Garnish

Important Pre-Prep Notes:

Before we get started, there’s a few important things to note.

First, the oil is going to be used to sear the pork in a dutch oven or pan before adding it into the mix. If you want to get creative, you could cook it on a smoker instead (which I would have done, weather allowing), or some other way. It will also be simmering a while in the final pot so try not to cook it beyond a medium rare so as to avoid drying it out.

Second: As best I can tell, the honey and cinnamon in the ingredients list only serve the purpose of reducing the heat or spiciness of the dish. The seeds in the peppers, especially the Jalapenos, are what generate that heat. If you prefer a milder Chili Verde and remove all the seeds, I’d avoid the honey and cinnamon as they’ll give the dish an unpleasant aftertaste without the heat to balance them

Third: This is a large recipe and will NOT fit in a standard size Crock-Pot or similar slow cooker without halving it. It will easily feed eight hungry people, particularly if you serve it on a bed of rice like my family (and my Latina godmother) used to.

Lastly: If you want to stay kosher / halal, or just find pork unhealthy, boneless skinless chicken breast works fine as a substitute for the pork.

The Prep Work:

Prep Time is supposedly 10 minutes, but I call shenanigans on that. Roasting and peeling the peppers should count as prep work not cooking. Total time with prep and cooking is just under 3 hours, but most of that is just letting it simmer on the stove so the flavors meld together.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to it’s highest setting or put it on broil.

Step 2: While the oven is preheating, Wash the Poblano, Anaheim and Jalapeño peppers and cut slits in them to prevent them from popping. Put them on sheet pans along with the garlic (skin side down), and onions.

Step 3: Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash them thoroughly to remove as much of the waxy residue from their surface as you can. Cut slits in them to prevent them from popping in the oven and put them on sheet pans as well.

For those that have never seen a tomatillo, here’s what they look like with the ‘husk’:

AND, without the husk or stem:

Note I cut out a small bad spot in the one on the lower right corner. 🙂

Shopping Tip: Tomatillos are peppers, but also related to tomatoes. You can tell if they’re ripe by judging the firmness, just as if it were a tomato. If it’s hard, it’s not ripe. If it’s firm but has just a little give, it’s ripe. If it’s soft, it’s going bad.

Step 4: Put the green chili peppers in the oven and roast until their skins have blistered and started to blacken. Flip them over and roast until the second side matches:

Step 5: Roast the tomatillos in the oven until they’re soft and lightly scorched on top.

NOTE: The main reason for steps 4 and 5 is to soften up the peppers and blister up the skins on the green chilis for peeling. It does impart a little flavor also though. If you want to up the flavor factor, fire roast the peppers on a hot BBQ or over a gas stove burner instead of in the oven.

Image from Nonnasway.com

Step 6: When the green chilies are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them. Remove as much skin as you can from the peppers. It doesn’t have to be a perfect job. The work will be similar to peeling the skin off an onion. Once that’s done, remove the stems and seeds along with any light colored membranes. Then remove the stems and seeds along with any light-colored membranes. Peel the garlic.

One skinned and seeded Poblano pepper.

Remember the above note about seeds here. The Jalapenos are the hottest of the three green peppers, while the Anaheim and Poblano are typically milder. It won’t hurt to leave some seeds in, or even all of them if you like spicy food.

Step 7: Toss all the roasted green chilies, tomatillos, onions, garlic, and main recipe portion the cilantro into a food processor and process until no large chunks are remaining:

Vitamix for the win!

Steps 8 and 9 can be skipped IF you decide to grill the pork (or chicken) instead:

Step 8: Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch over over medium-high heat until hot. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the pork.

Step 9: Add the vegetable oil to the preheated pot and add the pork in a single layer, leaving a bit of space between each piece of pork (if it doesn’t all fit, then do this in two batches). Let the pork brown on one side undisturbed and then flip and brown the other side.

If grilling or slow smoking the meat, cook to the same level of doneness.

Step 10: Add the green chili and tomatillo puree to the pot, along with the chicken stock, honey, cinnamon (both of which are optional depending upon seed content of the mixture), cumin, oregano, and salt. Scrape up the browned bits of pork juice from the bottom of the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the Chili Verde simmer until the pork is fall-apart tender (about 2 1/2 hours).

Lastly, adjust the seasoning to taste and then serve over tortillas, rice, scrambled eggs or whatever excites you. 🙂 Garnish with the additional cilantro and the cotija cheese.

A Couple Quick Final Notes:

First, three hours may seem like alot of time in the modern world, but it’s worth it. Most of that time is just letting it simmer also. No real work to that beyond occasionally checking and stirring it. You will NOT get flavor like this from canned products and a quickie version.

Secondly, the leftovers will slowly get a little spicier as they sit. That’s normal due to the tomatillo seeds (and possibly some of the others) being left in it. Freezing should stop that process and may be necessary depending upon how much leftovers you have anyway. 😉

If you really like spicier food, you might want to try doing steps 1 through 7 a day or two before and keeping the puree in the fridge until cooking day.

And my personal thanks to NoRecipes.com for posting this authentic recipe.

Italian Style Meatball Soup

I’ve been neglecting my food related posts, so here’s an Emeril Lagasse recipe (with a few modifications that I made during a recent bout of cold weather).

Rather than just re-do the whole recipe here, I’ll provide a link to the original page:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/meatball-soup-3646042

Emeril is one of my favorite chefs. Almost every recipe of his that I’ve tried has turned out great. This one was no exception.

I didn’t even burn myself this time! LOL

I will add a couple of notes here however:

Emeril’s 2 can’s of low sodium beef broth, 29 ozs or 8/10 of a liter, are not near enough liquid to make this soup. With the amount of meat and vegetables that go into this, it’s almost too thick to be a stew with that amount of liquid. Even more true if you use dry pasta in the recipe.

Bottom line; plan on having about twice that much to get the soup at the consistency in the picture above, or at least be ready to add water.

You also might want to make a little more meatballs than the recipe calls for. This made a crock put full, as you all can see. That’s about 8 decent sized bowls of soup. There were only a couple of pieces of meatball left by the time we got to the last two bowls.

OH… and if you’re using a crock pot and dry pasta… The pasta will NOT be cooked in 15 minutes like Emeril says… More like somewhere around an hour and a half. I *did* add that in late also. Past experience has taught me that slow cooker soups tend to dissolve pasta if it’s added in right at the get go.

End Result:

I almost forgot…

A bowl of the soup finished, and topped with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and served with some garlic Parmigiano Reggiano toasted bread on the side. 🙂

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today is Meals Monday so it’s time to get this recipe posted. 🙂

First, credit where it’s due. This recipe is from the “Fix It and Forget It Cookbook” that focuses on cooking things in a slow cooker.

That’s the same wire-bound version I have. Many tasty and easily thrown together recipes in it. This particular recipe was contributed to the book by one Becky Harder from Colorado. 🙂 Proper credit given, let’s jump to the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

4 – Boneless Chicken Breast Filets

2 – 15 ounce cans of black beans, undrained

2 – 15 ounce cans of Mexican stewed tomatoes or Rotel Tomatoes

1 – Cup of your favorite salsa

1 – 4 ounce can of chopped green chilies (I prefer Hatch chilies)

1 – 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 – bag of tortilla chips

2 – Cups of grated cheese (Mexican blend, Jack, Cheddar or whatever)

PREPARATION:

Combine all ingredients except chips and cheese in large slow cooker.

Cover and cook 8 hours

Just before serving, remove chicken breasts and slice into bite sized pieces, then stir back into soup.

To server, put a handful of chips in each individual soup bowl. Ladle soup over chips. Top with cheese

PERSONAL NOTES:

First, this is simple and very flavorful. It really is a classic crock pot “fix it and forget it” meal. It’s one of my favorite meals in the cook book, and great on cold days.

This recipe makes a TON of soup. It’ll feel more like a thick stew when you stir the pot. I typically have to add a mix of chicken broth and tomato sauce after the first meal so that the remainder is a soup instead of chili. 🙂 Doing that, you can get 12 to 14 bowls of soup out of this.

I cut the chicken up ahead of time instead of fighting with it after cooking and making a mess. It’s worked out fine. Just remember the chicken pieces will shrink a little in cooking and size your pieces accordingly. If you like shredded chicken vs neat pieces, then you’ll have to shred it after cooking obviously.

There are tons of options and variations to the basic recipe. Some people add corn. Some people put avocado slices on top with the cheese. Some people put a quarter of a lime on the side to squeeze in some extra flavor. Another personal favorite is to top with a dollop of sour cream.

Normally I have a picture of the food up, but it’s been a while since I’ve made this. Chicken Tortilla Soup will show a million search engine hits anyway, LOL.