In My Life, I've Loved Them All

Playing in the Kitchen: Chili Colorado #CincoDeMayo

When I saw an article on Bon Appetit called Chili Colorado is the Greatest Recipe Of All Time last month, I pinned it for later. Usually skeptical of anything touted “of all time,” I’ve had success with Bon Appetit recipes in the past. And this particular magazine seems to have the right balance of taking your cooking up a few notches while remaining pretty feasible for a non-professional cook.

Chili Colorado

The article is less instructional and more a story of a beloved childhood favorite: Chili Colorado (Colorado as in “red,’ not the State). So I consolidated it into a more readable recipe (below) and started on a kitchen adventure! Here are some good tips I learned along the way.

  • Be persnickety when buying chilies. I dug through the bulk bin until I found ones that were not crispy/too dry. They should be pliable like a raisin. If you buy them in bags, squish the bag to test the chilies. Crispy chilies = no flavor.

  • bags of chili peppers
  • I used “pork steaks.” These are pork chops that are not cut from the loin, but rather from the Boston Butt/Shoulder. Since the steaks were cut 1/2” thick, I only had to cut them in 1/2” strips, then cubes. Now if I could buy already cubed, it’d save even more time!

  • The pork steaks were $1.77 a pound and buy the chilies from the bulk bin costs less than $2 total. So this was a pretty cost effective meal (especially since I got to use up my homemade chicken stock sitting in the freezer). But saving money means spending more time… from the time I “started” in the kitchen until the time we sat down to eat: 4 hours. A lot of that time was just a simmering pot on the stove, and looking back I could had prepped/done the recipe in a different order to be more efficient. At any rate, this isn’t a “last minute-throw together” meal. Which is fine by me :)

  • Brown the pork in batches, not all at once. It took me 3 batched. But this way they have room to sear instead of steam. And DON’T stir the pieces around when you put them in the post. Let them sit and sear, and then flip after a few minutes. Remove to a plate and start the next batch.

  • brown the pork
  • Truth: I used all dried herbs spices. Because that is what I had. AND unless you are growing your own herbs, buying fresh can be expensive. Especially for a recipe that is simmering for hours. Save fresh herbs for a finish touch, if you want.

  • I started with the chili puree because that is how it was described in the article. next time, I’ll start with the pork, get that simmering away, and then move on t the Chilies (which have to steep for 30 min anyway).

  • chili puree
  • The article said simmer for 45 min after adding the chili puree. I extended this to an hour. You can tell when it is done because the pot will look saucy, not soupy.

  • Chili Colorado- Reducing
  • The pork will be so tender you can barely stab it with a for without it falling apart. Yum!

  • This is a heavy dish! There was a comment on the article describing it as such, and I should have taken heed. One scoop of brown rice topped with a scoop of chili colorado, a couple tortillas and some corn on the cob and I was FULL. As in 5 hrs later I still felt that heavy kind of full. Next time, less meat and more light sides… like a salad. Or just use the meat for tacos.

  • Nevertheless, I didn’t mind the fell feeling, since I literally knew (and could pronounce) all the foods and ingredients I just ate. Yay home-cooking!

Here is the recipe I de-coded from the article

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Chilies: 5 anchos, 2 pasillas, and 2 guajillos –seed and stem
Cover chilies with 3 cups of boiling chicken stock and steam, 30 minutes
Purée chilies and liquid until smooth

2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, cut into ½” pieces; season w/ salt and pepper
brown over med-high heat (heavy bottom pot coated in oil)

Add
6 garlic cloves chopped garlic
two bay leaves
tablespoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage and chopped fresh Mexican oregano
stir for 1 min

Add
5 cups of chicken stock; simmer uncovered for 1 hour

Add
Chile purée and simmer for another 45-60 minutes
The meat should be very tender and the sauce a thick, mahogany-red color.
Season with additional salt and pepper

Serve with with Mexican rice, beans a la charra, and flour tortillas

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