This past weekend, the pungent, smoky smell of roasting chiles filled the air in Sleepy Hollow. That’s because a little piece of New Mexico made its way out East. Each September my father-in-law ships us two huge burlap bags filled with New Mexico chiles. And, in keeping with the custom all throughout New Mexico, and with the help of some good friends, we roast our chiles on the barbecue, then sweat them, peel them, chop them, bag them, and freeze a supply to get us all through the cold dark winter. It’s a tradition that my New Mexico-born husband has so lovingly nurtured for his East Coast family and friends. Over the course of the year, we use our chiles in everything from egg dishes and salsas, to stews and stir-fries.
Even if you like your salsa mild and prefer your peppers from the bell family, I recommend you give New Mexico chiles a whirl. Their beauty lies not only in heat, but in their great flavor, which is at the heart of Southwestern cuisine. Their spiciness is a mellow, warming spiciness, as opposed to the ear-whistling, tongue burning scorch of the jalapeno or habanero.
This stew features a mix of medium and hot chiles, probably a little hotter than most would prefer, but perfect for my family’s taste buds. I used an arm roast from my meat share but the more commonly found beef chuck will work just as well. After over 4 hours in the oven, the resulting dish delivered melt-in-your-mouth meat, a deep and zinging flavor, and a homey comforting warmth that helped us usher in the first autumnal days of the year.
8 garlic cloves
3 pounds arm roast or beef chuck
Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning the meat, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups mild to spicy (depending on your taste) New Mexico green chiles*
2 bottles (12 ounces each) dark beer
3/4 pound fingerling potatoes (halved if large)
2 cups corn kernels, from about 2 ears of corn
Tortillas, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 325 °F.
- Peel the garlic cloves and cut them in halve or into quarters, depending on their size. Using a small sharp knife, make 1-inch slits all over the beef and insert the garlic pieces. Make sure that they are pushed well into the beef so that they don’t pop out and burn while you are searing the meat. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown all over until a deep crust forms. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan.
- Add the butter to the pan and reduce the temperature to medium-low. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring, about 7 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the cumin, oregano, and flour. Stir for one minute, then return the beef and any accumulated juices back to the pan with the tomatoes, chilies, and beer. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven to braise for about 4 hours, until the meat is falling apart tender. Check the meat occasionally and baste it with the cooking juices.
- Add the potatoes to the pan with a 1/2 cup water. Return the pan, covered, to the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the corn to cook for the final 5 minutes of the potato cooking time.
- Serve the stew with warm tortillas.
* Here’s a link for ordering New Mexico chiles online: http://diazfarms.com/. However, you can also use canned green chiles. Many local supermarkets carry the Hatch brand.
Nutritional analysis based on 8 servings (does not include salt and pepper or tortillas for serving):
Calories 430, Fat 19g, sodium 336mg, Carbohydrate 31g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 5g, Protein 42g