New Mexico Style Chicken Chili Verde

chickenchiliI’ve been making this for 20 years – it was the first thing I ever learned to make.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family, friends and I do.

I was inspired to figure out how to make this on a high school trip to New Mexico.  Being from New England, I was used to a lot of “beef-and-potatoes” – fairly bland stuff.  I’ll never forget getting off the plane in Albuquerque, NM at the age of 16 and heading straight to a little hole-in-the-wall joint in Gallup called Sadie’s.  It was my first exposure to (somewhat) spicy food and I never knew that food could taste like this.  I’ll always remember my friends being scared to even try it, but I couldn’t resist wolfing it down even though it made my eyes water and my nose run.  These days, I don’t find it that spicy – and it’s really not – only for a New England boy who never knew that food was supposed to taste like something.

The Prep time in this dish is a bit long since there’s a lot of chopping involved; use a sharp knife to make things a bit easier.  As always, give yourself a good head start on the prep.  If you have, say, 15 extra minutes, roast your chiles (only the Hatch/Anaheim ones) ahead of time.  It will bring out their sweet smokey spicy flavor.

Prep:  20 min
Cook: 20 min

Inactive: 90 min
Ready in: 2hrs 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large Spanish or white onion
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped (reserve some for garnish, if you like)
  • 4 Hatch Chile Peppers (Anaheim Chile Peppers will also work), roasted and peeled (optional), diced.  Note:  Alternatively, pre-diced, canned green chilies work fine as well – you’ll need 3, 3.5oz cans 
  • 4 jalepeño peppers, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (or to taste, optional – I use Dave’s Insanity Sauce)
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1  can/box (32oz) of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cans (14oz each) white beans (NOT cannellini!), drained.
  • 3 tbsp cumin powder (you read that right, it’s not a typo, I mean Tablespoons)
  • Optional: For serving – tortilla strips, corn bread, sour cream, shredded Mexican Cheese


Optional Preparation Step (not required but it makes a big difference): 

chilesRoast your Hatch/Anaheim chiles over high heat on the grill, or under a broiler set on high – I do mine on the grill over Mesquite wood.  Wait for the skins to blister and are mostly blackened (yes, don’t be afraid to burn them, that skin is coming off anyhow), then flip and repeat on the opposite sides.  Once thoroughly roasted, place them in an airtight container (Tupperware, or simply a large bowl with a plate on top)- this will steam them in their own heat.  After about 20 minutes, remove the chiles from the container and transfer to a cutting board.  Peel the skins off and remove seeds and stems; if you blackened your chiles well, the skins should come off quite easily; if not, you can try peeling them under cold running water.  Consider using rubber gloves for the peeling process if you’re using Hatch Chiles- hot pepper hands are the worst!

Main Preparation Instructions

Dice onion; mince garlic; chop cilantro (this mixture is also known as a sofrito) – combine and reserve in a medium size bowl and set aside.  Dice Hatch (or Anaheim) chiles, jalapeños, bell pepper – combine and reserve in a separate bowl.  Dice chicken, set aside and reserve.  Open two cans of white beans, drain.  Locate cumin, set aside.

Cooking Instructions

In a large stock-pot (or very large skillet or saucepan), add butter and olive oil and melt over medium high heat.  When butter is just barely melted, reduce heat to medium and stir gently to coat the bottom of the pot.  Carefully add garlic, onion and cilantro.

Note:  It is very important not to burn the garlic-onion-cilantro mixture (the sofrito).  If you don’t have a lot of experience gauging how hot the oil/butter mixture is, you can test it by dropping ONE tiny piece of the diced onion into the pan.  If it sizzles loudly, crackles, or jumps out of the pot spattering hot oil everywhere, it’s too hot.  The onion should only react slightly.  If it turns out it’s too hot, remove the pan from the heat for a minute or two until it cools down a bit.

Stir the sofrito continuously to ensure nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pan and sauté until onions are mostly translucent, 5-7 minutes.

Add Hatch/Anaheim Chiles, jalapeños, and bell pepper and continue to saute until no longer stiff and crunchy, another 5-7 minutes.

Add hot sauce, if using.

Add chicken to pot and mix everything together well.  Continue stirring until chicken turns white all around.

Add cumin and mix in well.

Add chicken broth and beans – there should be enough liquid to cover everything in the pot once it’s been stirred together.  If there isn’t, add a bit of water until everything is covered by at least 1/4 inch of liquid.

Cover, and bring to a rolling boil.

Remove cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and allow to simmer down, 1 hr and 20 minutes, or until desired consistency is achieved.  (Now is a good time to crack open a beer).

Just prior to serving, turn the heat off and stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until your arms fall off.  This will make it so that the chili is cool enough to eat; it also will break down the chicken into nice ‘strings’ giving it the consistency of pulled chicken.  It also aids in the final thickening to give it that nice chili texture.

Note:  If the chicken isn’t breaking down to the desired texture, you can speed the process up using a potato masher.

Serve with Tortilla strips, sour cream, cheese and cornbread.

 

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