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Holy Posole: It's Green Chile Time

Around this time of year in New Mexico and West Texas, green chile lovers buy a bag of chiles and get them roasted. The roasted chiles are then stored in the freezer for the rest of the year. Central Market has brought that quaintly picante custom to its stores in Texas. They are selling a case of roasted chiles for $28. That’s a lot more than they go for in New Mexico, but think of all the gas you’ll save.

Here’s a short history of the green chile and a recipe:

The “New Mexican” chile is a pod-type that was hybridized around 1894 by Fabian Garcia at New Mexico State University. He crossed a chile pasilla with a chile colorado to get the meaty vegetable-like green chile he was trying to create. Known as the “Long Green Chile” by New Mexicans and West Texans (until it turns red and becomes the Long Red Chile), it has a pleasant vegetable flavor–you can buy them hot or mild.

There are countless cultivars of the varietal, including Big Jim, Sandia, and others. Some are hotter, some are milder, some ripen early, some ripen late. Anaheims are the same pod-type–their name comes from a chile cannery opened in Anaheim, California in 1900 by a farmer named Emilio Ortega, who brought the pepper seeds to California from New Mexico.

In New Mexico, the Long Green Chile is further subdivided by region of origin. The two most common names encountered are Hatch and Chimayo. Hatch chiles are grown in the southern part of New Mexico (around the town of Hatch) from certified seed sources and are graded according to heat. Mild green Hatch chiles are often roasted and peeled, then eaten like a vegetable. It is rumored that Hatch chile growers have taken to sending their seeds across the border where they can grow chiles using cheaper Mexican water and labor. The “Hatch” chiles are then brought back into the U.S. from Mexico.

Chimayo chiles are the older more traditional chiles grown in the Northern part of the state (around the town of Chimayo) from seeds that have been saved from the last harvest. Chimayo chiles are treasured for their superior flavor and unpredictable heat, but they are becoming increasingly rare. Most of the “Chimayo chile” sold around the state (including on the steps of the chapel in the village of Chimayo) are actually cheaper Hatch chiles that hawkers pass off to tourists. The best place to buy certified Chimayo chiles is at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.

You can use your roasted green chiles to make green chile salsa, stacked enchiladas or green chile posole. Here’s my recipe for Texas-style posole.

Texas Green Chile Posole

This is sort of a cross between the South Texas squash casserole called “Calabacitas” and New Mexican green chile posole. The squash gets cooked down to mush and becomes the thickener for the spicy stew. I use Al Marcus’s Grateful Bread bacon and Morgan Weber’s Revival Meats pork for this recipe.

4 slices bacon, sliced thick and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound pork chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
2 cups roasted New Mexican green chiles, chopped
4 cups chopped summer squash such as tatuma, zucchini or yellow crookneck
1 30 ounce can pozole blanco (white hominy)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon salt or to taste

Garnish plate:
lime wedges
sliced radishes
chopped onion
chopped cilantro
baked tortilla strips

In a soup pot over medium high heat, brown the bacon until it releases some grease and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are wilted. Add the pork and garlic and stir fry for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the rest of the ingredients (except the garnish). Cook covered for two hours (or longer), stirring and adding water if needed. Serve in soup bowls.
Pass around a plate of garnishes for diners to add to their soup.

Serves 6 to 8

8 comments to Holy Posole: It's Green Chile Time

  • Patrick

    My wife loves posole so I tried a riff on this recipe today subbing in some chayote for the other kinds of less firm summer squash. Success. She loves it and said it would definitely pass muster in New Mexico. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Mary

    While in New Mexico last week, we picked up some roasted chiles, froze them and brought them back to Houston. You could get either 1/2 bushel or a full bushel of fresh chiles, then they fired them in a roaster such as the one above. I wonder how much is in a “case” from Central Market? They smelled so fantastic roasting away in the parking lot. Planning a green chile stew/tortilla combo sans pozole.

  • Hi. I’m writing up a blog post as we speak and came across your site while looking for information. I would like to be able to link your page in my upcoming post because you’ve got the photos and explanation of Hatch green chiles and the roasting process. A friend of mine was in El Paso recently and brought 30 pounds of frozen, fire-roasted chiles back to CA. I was fortunate to get some of them and made apple and Hatch chile turnovers. Anyhow, just wanted to let you know, and your posole looks yummy!

  • paula c. reumont-wood

    Wow! I am from Colorado and have lived in Salado Texas for two years now. I dream of my roasted chilies from Pueblo Colorado but Hatch’s would be great. Am I still in time to get any roasted chilies? Please let me know, I sure would appreciate it. Thanks, Paula

  • We lived in Denver for several years and the smell of roasting Hatch chilis made this Texas girl so happy each fall. Our local grocery store here in Nebraska had Hatch chilis for a week this fall and I now have several bags in the freezer…roasted green goodness waiting for Green Chili Stew and Chicken Green Chili Enchiladas.

  • paula c. reumont-wood

    All I have found here in Central Texas are frozen roasted and chopped hatch chilies from New Mexico. Had to go to Wallmart to find them. Still very interested in fall roasting. Does anyone do roasting here in Central Texas? Need a fix ASAP. Thanks P:)

  • suz

    We are winter texans in port aransas. I did find the frozen chiles at walmart in aransas pass but they don’t seem to have them any more. Any ideas where else to find them? Leaving for home, KC, next week so any help would be appreciated (HEB does not have either)

  • Joe Graves

    HEB stores in Texas sell fresh Hatch chiles in the summer,they set up speacial displays. I believe it is June or July