ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bryant Roybal’s grandmother’s green chile stew is taking him places.
He won the first-ever green chile cookoff last year at the New Mexico State Fair and several other contests around the state.
Roybal says green chile stew was always lunch on Sunday after church services at his grandmother’s house in Pojoaque.
His green chile stew stirred up such a buzz with its awards, everyone around his hometown of Los Alamos wanted to try it.
Just like the State Fair judges, people just couldn’t get enough, so Roybal started catering events with his green chile and his equally delicious barbecue. Since then he bought a food truck and travels around when he’s not working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, sharing the traditional stew at popular events around the state.
“We won first place at every competition. We’ve been extremely busy,” he says of competitions around the state before and after the State Fair.
When people ask him his secret, “I always tell people to take something they love and make it their own.”
Roybal will be one of five judges this year at the cookoff.
It’s a tough one to judge, says Donna Peck, superintendent for food arts at the fair. “We take creative and traditional recipes, so judging is 90 percent about taste. Appearance is about 5 percent and the story behind the recipe is another 5 percent.”
Last year, the first year of the contest, a woman did a pueblo-style green chile with corn and other vegetables. “It was really difficult to choose,” Peck says.
She says contestants must enter by Aug. 18 for the Sept. 15 competition. Rules and entry forms for the contest sponsored by Frontier Restaurant are at exponm.com on the Food Preparation PDF on the Home Arts page.
Pairs of cooks will begin cooking at the live event about 10:30 a.m. and will rotate every hour until the judging at 4:30 p.m. Cooks must bring their own utensils, ingredients and cooking pots. The stew can be refrigerated and warmed up for judging or kept warm in a cook-provided Crockpot or other warming pot, Peck says.
Peck says Frontier Restaurant will reimburse all 10 chosen participants $25 for food expenses and the first-place winner will receive $100 along with a Frontier gift certificate. Second- and third-place winners will also win prizes. “They’ve been so generous.”
Dan Mourning, the fair’s general manager, says the fair is proud and excited about the competition. “Green chile stew is uniquely representative of the great cuisine for which our state is famous. The competition will be fierce with talented cooks from throughout New Mexico testing their skills to make the best batch of green chile stew.”
BRYANT ROYBAL’S GREEN CHILE STEW
2 pounds chile (a mix of green chile, ripe green chile (red), jalapeños, ripe jalapeños, yellow hots and Hungarian chile. All chile should be roasted, stemmed, peeled and diced.)
2 pounds center-cut pork chops diced in ¼ -inch pieces
4 large potatoes peeled and diced into ¼ -inch squares
1 can diced tomatoes
Spices to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
Cook meat in a large frying pan with oil and spices until it’s golden to medium-brown. Remove meat from the pan and reserve drippings for later.
Cook potatoes in a separate frying pan with oil, until golden-brown and remove when done.
In a large stock pot add: all chile, meat, potatoes, tomatoes and water.
Take drippings from meat pan and create a golden-brown to medium-brown roux. When complete, add water, mix and add to stock pot.
Over medium heat, mix all items, adding water to proper consistency and adding spices to taste. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.