You gotta love the internet for the way you can find anything out about anything or anyone at any time. I mean, wow. I missed my high school reunion this summer (ten years!) and started to feel all sentimental and wanted to reconnect with the people from home (Taos, New Mexico) that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. So through good ole Facebook, I tracked down at least ten old friends and got up to speed on their lives. I love it! Most of them are married with children, some have really cool jobs, others have travelled and been on cool adventures. In short, Taos has produced some mighty fine individuals! I got to thinking about my very favorite dishes, ones that you never find outside of New Mexico, and decided to make one the other night. So here is my version of Green Chile Stew, with a slight variation of sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, which I used for the pretty color and slight sweetness to offset the salty and spice. If at all possible, use Hatch Farms brand green chiles. They are from New Mexico and are the best that I have found in the supermarkets around here. If you can go to a Mexican market to get them, even better, but I think the Hatch Farms brand is more easily accessible across the country.
New Mexican Green Chile Stew with Sweet Potatoes
1 pound natural or organic pork breakfast sausage or ground pork (can use ground turkey, beef, or chicken if you prefer)
tablespoon grape seed oil
1 large onion, medium dice
2 carrots, sliced
4 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
4–6 cups homemade or canned chicken stock, depending on consistency you like
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1–14-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
8–12-ounce Hatch green chiles (I used 3 by 4 ounce cans diced green chiles, two mild and a hot, but you can choose according to your spice tolerance)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a large, heavy pot (such as a cast iron or Le Creuset) over medium heat for several minutes and add oil and meat. Break meat up with back of a wooden spoon, browning and cooking on all sides, about seven minutes. Remove meat, reserving oil in pan for veggies.
2. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté over high heat until veggies begin to brown. Add cumin, salt, and freshly ground pepper and stir, lightly toasting to release fragrance. Add bay leaves, chicken stock, and meat back into pan, reduce heat, and simmer for at least forty-five minutes, but up to two hours to develop flavors.
3. Remove bay leaves and add sweet potatoes, cooking until just soft, about fifteen more minutes (you want the potatoes to hold their shape and color). Add beans, chiles, and cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper and add more stock if it’s become too thick for your liking. Remove from heat and enjoy!