Saturday, March 21, 2009

What’s For Dinner? Local Gringos’ Green Chile Stew

Iclip_image002 can’t believe how many people offered to come over for dinner last night, after I tweeted that I was fixing Green Chile Stew! And it was gooood, too, heh-heh.

Since I didn’t invite any of you over to share the stew, today I realized I could at least share my recipe.

Mind you, my version isn’t completely traditional, but I think an improved variant … try it, see what you think, and post yer comments below!

Local Gringos’ Green Chile Stew

Green chile stew is an ancient dish, first attributed to the Native American people known as the Navajo, or Di’neh. Simple, hearty and filling, today this stew is a staple throughout New Mexico and Arizona, and there are dozens of different ways to prepare it.

This is my own “local gringos” version of green chile stew, diverging from traditional recipes in two respects: I add potatoes, and I don’t use tomatoes. (Why would a green chile stew be red?) But don’t be afraid to exercise your own creativity with this flexible and forgiving recipe … for more ideas, see my notes & suggested variations at the end of this post.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 red-skinned or gold potatoes, or enough to make approx. 3 cups peeled & diced
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-1/2 lbs pork shoulder
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ½ to 1 cup diced roasted green chiles (to taste)
  • Salt & cracked black pepper


Pour chicken stock into large Dutch oven or stock pot. Peel and dice potatoes into ½-inch cubes and promptly add to stock. Place pot over medium high heat, covered, and bring to a rolling boil.

Next, brown bacon slices in a large skillet. Remove bacon to paper toweling to drain; reserve. Tip skillet to estimate amount of bacon fat remaining: you should have about 2 tablespoons. Dip out any extra, or make up any difference with olive oil.

While bacon is cooking, dice onion into medium bowl. Peel and mince garlic; add to bowl. Trim fat from pork and cut into ½ inch cubes; add to onions & garlic. Toss to mix thoroughly.

Add pork mixture to the hot bacon fat in skillet. Season with oregano, salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Stir to lightly brown pork cubes on all sides, and cook just until onion is softened and translucent. (Don’t overcook, it will toughen the pork.) Add the seasoned pork mixture to the pot of boiling potatoes. Stir in the green chiles, and crumble in (whatever you didn’t eat of) the reserved cooked bacon.

Return pot to boiling. Adjust heat and maintain slow boil, uncovered, for 45 minutes to one hour, or until liquid is reduced by approximately half and stew is thickened to your preference. (Test the potato cubes: they should be done, but not falling-apart mushy.) Taste for salt and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve hot with fresh cornbread and a green salad.


The starch from the potatoes I use thickens the stew, and adds a slightly earthy flavor that I like. Red-skinned “new” potatoes, or Yukon golds, work best at holding their shape in soups and stews, I’ve found.

If you want a more traditional version – or you don’t happen to have potatoes on hand – you can use flour as a thickening agent instead. After dicing the pork, shake the cubes in a bag with flour to coat, then brown them in the skillet.

In this recipe, there’s really no substitute for roasted Sandia or Anaheim green chiles. Here in New Mexico, of course, it’s easy to get locally-grown and freshly-roasted green chile peppers, especially the hallowed Hatch green chiles. Outside the Land of Enchantment, look for canned or frozen in grocery aisles; or, you can order them fresh, canned or frozen online.

Many, many people make this stew starting with water instead of stock. But I’m a firm believer in the magic of homemade stock: it adds depth and dimension to the finished soup or stew, transforming “good” to “great”. I make stock all the time and keep a supply in the freezer for just such an occasion.

And personally, I never add any vegetable or meat to any soup or stew without browning or sautéing it first; my grandpa taught me so and I’ve stuck to it. I also believe that my method of seasoning the meat and vegetables during the browning step, before adding them to the liquid, yields richer flavor.


While I prefer to make green chile stew with inexpensive cuts of pork like shoulder or Boston butt, this stew is often prepared locally with beef or lamb instead. If I were to substitute either red meat for the “white meat” pork, I probably would add tomatoes. Say, a 16-oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes? I wouldn’t use tomato paste because I don’t like its overly sweet taste.

Once your sautéed meat & veggies are combined into the boiling stew pot, you could also throw in a cup or so of cooked or canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Posole (cooked hominy) is also a tasty addition, but takes the stew in a different direction – posole is a whole ‘nother conversation!

I love using bacon and its rendered fat in this stew. But if you’re more virtuous than I, skip the bacon, substituting 2 tablespoons olive oil.

This recipe also works well as a slow cooker dish. Start with only 6 cups of chicken stock; combine stock, potatoes and browned pork mixture in a large slow cooker. Cook 7 to 8 hours on low, or 3 to 4 hours on high. If too much liquid remains in the pot at the end of the cooking time, remove cooker lid and cook on high until liquid is reduced.

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Local Gringos Green Chile Stew recipe © 2009 by Margaret Briggs. This recipe is my original creation, which I’m sharing here for you to use for your own personal enjoyment. Just don’t re-publish it in any form without my permission, okay? Contact me directly via email.


  1. Hey, this blog is a great find! I just came over to take a look from the City Data New Mexico Forum. I can't wait to see all of your posts. I have two blogs--one called Recipes for Ben (where I will add your blog to my blog list) and the other called The Zees Go West, which is my take on life in eastern New Mexico after moving here from New England. It also has bits on knitting and crocheting and whatever else I am thinking about.

    I put potatoes in my green chile stew, too.

  2. Hi Maggie,

    I just found your blog through your post at City-Data New Mexico forum and have added it to my bookmarks; I love finding interesting NM bloggers. I've been blogging for a year and a half about our move to New Mexico in 2008.

    I love to make green chile stew all winter long, and as if I didn't get enough of it at home, I order it frequently in restaurants here in Santa Fe too.

    I never add tomatoes to my green chile stew, and I always add potatoes. I have developed my recipe over time, and I've patterned it over the versions I have eaten in restaurants here. I've never used bacon either, seems like it might change the flavor.

    I love to knit too; anxious to read more of your posts.