Green Chile and Chicken Stew

One of my favorite part about going to farmer’s markets when I was living in Charlottesville was finding a large variety of vegetables that I don’t normally find in my sad New Haven grocery stores. Given my proclivity towards spicy foods and Mexican flavors, I had been looking for a recipe that would use a variety of peppers. I finally found this stew, which turned out to be a perfect dinner. And you can actually find these peppers throughout the year, so this should not be a dish that you can only make seasonally.

The only issue is that this recipe does take a fair bit of time (over an hour), so if you’re looking for a quick dinner on a weeknight, this is not the recipe for you. With the amount of time taken to roast, peel and seed some pretty spicy peppers, this is more of a weekend project. And remember to wear gloves when seeding some of these peppers, especially if you wear contact lenses! As someone who has made the mistake of taking off her lenses after chopping jalapenos earlier, I can say that sometimes even soap doesn’t take off that capsaicin :-/

Green Chile and Chicken Stew

Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, trimmed, stems and leaves separated
  • 2 large onions, chopped, divided
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 4 Italian frying peppers
  • 4 poblano or Hatch chiles
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Steamed rice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Combine chicken, cilantro stems, 1 onion, and next 6 ingredients in a large pot. Add water to cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer very gently until chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool slightly; shred into bite-size pieces. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, arrange tomatillos, peppers, and chiles in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until charred, 15-20 minutes. Green Chile and Chicken Stew
  • Transfer peppers and chiles to a a paper bag and let steam for 15 minutes, then peel and seed. Not sure how to peel roasted peppers? Click here
  • Combine peppers, chiles, and tomatillos in a food processor and purée, adding reserved broth from the chicken as necessary, until a coarse purée forms.
  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add remaining 1 onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized in spots, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomatillo purée and remaining reserved broth; bring to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat and add chicken. Serve stew over rice and garnish with cilantro leaves
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Mexican Tortilla Pie

I was lucky to not be in New Haven the weekend of Cinco De Mayo since New Haven doesn’t really have great Mexican food. Surprisingly, one of my favorite things that I had that weekend was actually a pizza – the Cinco De Mayo special at Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of pizza sauce, it had a base of salsa, topped with ground beef, green peppers, caramelized onions, taco seasoning, sour cream and avocados. It was almost like eating a taco except in format of a pizza, and it was delicious! I’m a big fan of the restaurant otherwise too – their crust is really light and fluffy, but at the same time it’s thick as well, unlike the standard New York-style thin crust.

Cinco De Mayo Pizza at Mellow Mushroom

Besides eating tacos disguised as pizzas, we also made a tortilla pie. For those who have never tried to make this, this pie is essentially a stack of quesadillas. It is a vegetarian’s heaven, using  black beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, salsa and cheese. It’s easy to make and is great comfort food. The basic recipe was taken from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/seven-layer-tortilla-pie/ (Thanks KDCG!) Here’s my version with some adaptations:
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans (I got low sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup tomato salsa*
  • 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (I got  low-sodium), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 7 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cheese – I used a mixture of Monterey Jack and Cheddar, feel free to use any of the 3 or 4 Mexican cheese blends
  • Sour cream

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • In a large bowl, mash pinto beans. You can do that either using a fork or a blender. Stir in 1/2 cup tomato salsa, 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa and garlic into this mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup tomato salsa, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes.

Preparing the various layers of the tortilla pie

  • Place 1 tortilla in a pie plate or tart dish. Spread 3/4 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, and cover with another tortilla. Spread with 2/3 cup black bean mixture, and top with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering twice. Cover with remaining tortilla, and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture and cheese. So in the end, you should have 4 layers of the pinto bean mixture and 3 layers of the black bean mixture.
  • Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes. Spraying the foil with some cooking spray or oil will make sure that the cheese on the top layer does not get stuck to the foil once the pie has been cooked.
  • Cut into wedges, and serve with guacamole (optional) and sour cream

* – I’ve used both pre-made salsa and salsa made from scratch. In my opinion, the pie turns out much better when fresh salsa is used. Just get a basic salsa recipe from the internet if you want to use fresh salsa as well. The main ingredients in my salsa were tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno peppers. I’ve also made this pie using both pre-made tomato and tomatillo salsa, and even that tastes fine.

Tortille pie straight out of the oven

I know it’s not the most picturesque dish, but trust me, it tastes delicious!

 

Black Bean Soup with a Tomatillo Salsa

I’ve finally decided to move beyond posting recipes of desserts, simply because now I have a lot more time to experiment (and write about it) given that I have holidays. Here’s the dish that satisfied my Mexican food craving tonight. It’s the perfect soup for a cold winter evening. I particularly enjoy the use of tomatillos because it adds that extra kick to the dish, without getting completely neutralized by the sour cream. Overall, the combination of tomatillos and jalapenos definitely give this soup quite the kick, but if it’s getting too spicy for you,  then you can increase the amount of tomatoes in the salsa or add an extra drop of sour cream to your serving. (Thanks to Fine Cooking Magazine for the basic recipe)

black bean soup2_opt

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chile (though you can use cayenne pepper if you don’t have this)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (though I used more just because I love cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon salt

For the salsa:

  • 1 large tomato, finely diced (though next time I would increase it to 1 and a half cups, just because I really enjoyed the taste of fresh tomato in this dish. Feel free to decide based on your preference)
  • 3 tomatillos, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 serano pepper or jalapeno pepper, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Topping: sour cream (optional)

(I’d recommend guacamole with this as well)

Directions

For the soup: 

1. Soak the beans for a few hours.

2. In a large pot, heat some oil and saute the onions. Add beans, garlic and 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer until the beans are cooked

3. When the beans are soft (after around 45 minutes to an hour depending on the quality of the beans and the size of your pot), add the tomato, chipotle chile, cumin, coriander and salt. Add salt based on your own taste.

For the salsa:

1. Combine tomato, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Add salt and pepper as you desire.

Serve the salsa over the beans and add as much sour cream as you please. Next try: adding guacamole!

Dinner tonight: Black Bean Soup!