Chili Verde…. I mean, Chili Colorado

For this, you need:

Two sliced-up chicken breasts or sliced-up pork of about the same weight – maybe close to a pound.
A half pound to pound of chorizo (optional, but it helps).
Two cans of chicken stock.
A green pepper.
An Anaheim pepper.
A poblano pepper.
(I used extra slices of red, yellow, and orange bell pepper for color.)
About half an onion.
A couple ripe tomatoes.
A splotch of milk.
A little flour.
Your favorite Latin and other spices, and it’s up to you, but it better include garlic, black pepper, chili pepper, cumin, and then I’ll let you fill in the rest.

I make some pretty darn good chili, in kind of the standard Middle American way, but tastier and spicier. Yeah, I’m bragging, but I’ve been doing this for 30 years (cooking chili, I mean, not bragging)(I hope), and the family will back me up on it.

That is, if I pay them. Or promise to stop cooking chili.

No, I mean they really do like it. Even Jean copied it. Sort of. Jean is a mom-figure at a client’s office, and I invited her to my last (meaning the most recent one, not final)(I hope) decade-marking birthday, where I had three pots of chili (meaty, vegetarian, and Robust) for any guests who couldn’t think up some ridiculous excuse for not coming over. Obviously, my friends are not terribly bright, because a number of them showed up.

Jean liked the chili enough that she asked for the recipe, which I’m pretty open with (hint: http://grandpa-tells-stories.com/sporkful/chili/), and she told me later the chili was delicious, and since by then I’d forgotten that I gave her the recipe, I looked at her blankly and said something like, “Well, that’s nice,” at which point she realized that the man in front of her had the memory of cottage cheese, and she reminded me that I gave her the recipe.

So I said, “Oh, you used my recipe and liked it. I’m so glad.” She then said, well, she substituted some hoity-toity tomatoes for my canned tomatoes and some high-class meat for what I used (ground turkey), and for all I know, she changed up the vegetables, beans, and spices, but otherwise, it was exactly the same, and thank you for the recipe.

Anyway, with all that chili history behind me, I’d never made green chili, or chili verde. I wanted to. I looked up recipes and didn’t like them. So I did what any rational busy, overcommitted guy would do: I decided to try it myself from scratch, no starting recipe.

My first attempt was a combination of success and failure, and first I will tell you where I went wrong, because I want to spare you severe berating from a sweaty, whimpering spouse, unless you like that sort of thing, and if you do, go to a different website. I know they’re out there.

See, I’d decided to slice up chili peppers that we got from the local farmers market. I thought they were Anaheim peppers, which to me are mild to medium, but they were reddened where the Anaheim peppers I’d chatted with had all been green, and apparently it makes a difference, because in sauteeing those bad boys, I started crying, and not with tears of joy, and the paint starting peeling off the kitchen wall tile, which was curious because they’re not painted.

The whole attempt came out pretty tasty but spicy hot, and I mean “spicy hot” in the way that Kate Middleton (the royal one) is a “little photographed.” Grandma complimented me on the taste and, between slices of cheddar and spoonfuls of sour cream dropped into the demon’s stew and gulps of milk, accused me of trying to kill her. I had the last laugh. She finished the bowl, and she’s still alive today.

So I had to try a second time to catch the taste but knock down the heat to notable from unbearable. The trick this time would be to use milder chili peppers and more bell pepper. And it worked.

Slice up the chicken or pork and start cooking it in some olive oil and your favorite spices. Be sure to touch in some water to keep it moist and tender. Add the chorizo if you’re using it.

Slice up the Anaheim/poblano/green peppers, onion, and the other colored bell peppers, if you use them, into small strips. Start sauteeing them up in a separate with olive oil and water.  You can add spices to them too. Even some lemon or lime juice. I mean, I didn’t, but it sounds good.

If you cooked up the chorizo with the other meat, drain it all when it’s done. The chorizo I had was kinda greasy, and not only did I drain it but rinsed it. I figured I could make up the taste with spices, and I was right. Remember to put the meat back in the pan.

Throw in the two cans of chicken stock with the meat.

Remember, you’ve got those vegetables (actually, peppers are fruit, but we have the onion to hang our hat on) sauteeing still, right?  Don’t be afraid to brown them up. Now, at this point, based on experience, if the fumes from the peppers are climbing up your nostrils and trying to pull your eyeballs through your nose, you might be in trouble later on.

Start putting in spices into the chicken broth/meat mixture. Bring it to a boil. By this time, your vegetables (mostly fruit, okay?) should be nicely done up, and dump it into the pan as well.

Slice up your tomatoes (also a fruit) into small chunks and dump them in, along with all the juices that gooshes out from the slicing. You’ll probably want to add at least a little water. Keep heating it up.

When it’s boiling, add the milk, and as things come to a boil again, whisk it to keep the clumps of milk down.

Taste it. It may need more spices at this point, because you might not be as fearless as your Grandpa when it comes to adding spices. However, if you have a palate like Grandma’s, you’re right to be cautious. So good for you. Here, have some more spice.

Add flour by sprinkling, a little at a time, to thicken it, and keep whisking. When it’s getting close to the right consistency, cover and let it simmer for a while.

I was aiming for green chili, but with the tomatoes and probably chorizo and probably the red-colored spices, it came out more red (hence the “Colorado” in the title). The Eldest Son came over to watch football, and I served him up a bowl. He is sometimes sparse with his praise, and he likes his food really spicy (I should’ve fed him the first batch), but he pronounced it “amazing,” which gratified me so much that I forgot about the crap he pulled on us when he was a teenager. For a second or two, anyway. And he turned down my offer of hot sauce. He said the balance was perfect and didn’t want to mess with it.

Grandma and I ate it later, and she pronounced it delicious, with the need for only about a fifth of the sour cream that she’d used on the previous batch.

So I have a new chili mix to add to my repertoire. That doubles my offering of tasty food!

— Grandpa

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