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New Mexicans warm up with a favorite green chile stew

Some like it hot. Others like it thick and rich. Whatever way green chile stew is prepared, it’s a favorite dish of many New Mexicans, especially during the winter.

“We sell so much of it, particularly in the winter,” says Kami O’Brien, manager at the Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery. “It’s one of those warm and hearty traditional New Mexican foods that people love.”

At the Blue Corn Cafe, which has locations in Santa Fe at 133 W. Water St. and 4056 Cerrillos Road, green chile stew is a slowly simmered mixture of cubes of pork, potatoes, posole and medium to hot Hatch green chile. Customers can order it in a cup, bowl or super large, meal-size bowl  with a tortilla and sopaipilla.

Al Lucero, owner of Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, takes his restaurant’s green chile stew very seriously.

“Every morning we simmer lean chunks of tender pork with a few onions, garlic, Russet potatoes and Hatch green chile,” he says. “It’s hot enough to have a kick but flavorful enough to keep the nuance of the chile. We don’t add any artificial flavors. It’s all natural.”

A hand-rolled tortilla or sopaipilla accompanies the cup or bowl.

For customers who prefer chicken rather than pork, Maria’s, at 555 W. Cordova Road in Santa Fe, offers cups and bowls of chicken green chile stew.

“It’s prepared exactly the same way as the regular green chile stew except we add white meat chicken to it instead of pork,” says Lucero.

Twists on tradition

The green chile stew at two other Santa Fe restaurants, The Shed, 113 E. Palace Ave., and La Choza Restaurant, 905 Alarid St., has Sandia green chile.

Courtney Carswell, who owns the restaurants and serves the same recipe at both, says Sandia green chile provides the right amount of heat and a nice flavor.

“We use pork shoulder in the stew,” he adds. “We also put in fingerling potatoes that are grown in the San Luis Valley. They’re sweet little potatoes.”

Carswell’s recipe calls for a pork base that thickens the stew.

The Shed and La Choza simmer batches of green chile stew in five-gallon pots before serving in cups or bowls along with a flour tortilla.

“The way I like to eat green chile stew is to tear a flour tortilla in pieces and put chunks of the stew on the tortilla pieces,” says Carswell.

The Tecolote Cafe at 1203 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe has its own twist on the traditional dish.

Manager Katie Adkins says the restaurant makes its green chile stew with cubes of beef instead of pork. The chef adds carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and a flavorful green chile with a kick to it before simmering the stew.

“Customers can and do order our green chile stew for breakfast and for lunch,” says Adkins. “We also offer a complete meal, which includes a bowl of stew, a salad and either our bakery basket or tortillas for. It’s a simple but very filling meal.”

Because green chile stew recipes vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant, customers with specific food allergies should ask their server about the ingredients before ordering.