Friday, October 16, 2009

Menu 11: New Mexican Stew and Cornbread

I need to visit New Mexico once a year. Primarily I need to see my dear friends Anne Sigler and George Muedeking who left the Bay area a couple of years ago and now live in the East Mountains outside of Albuquerque. But there are a couple of other reasons as well. I have to see the sky. Living as I do in urban areas, I don’t see enough of the sky from one horizon to another and I need it; my spirit needs it. And then there is the food. I love New Mexican Green Chile stews. This year I had an excellent one at the café at Acoma Pueblo some ways south of Albuquerque. The café’s stew replaced the tomatoes in the recipe below with chicken stock and added a little more heat, but in all other ways was like this one. Just lovely. The café served it with plain white bread. I think flour tortillas and especially the Lemon Cornbread are great along side the stew. A friend of mine fancies the cornbread crumbled into the stew.

Pueblo Green Chile Stew

2 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon olive oil, butter, lard, or bacon fat
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped, or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
1½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder or to taste—this provides the heat
¼ cup chicken stock, if necessary
10 poblano (sometimes called pasilla) chiles or Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped—these are fresh, green and mild
Note: You can do these ahead. In a pinch you could use canned chiles.
1 yellow summer squash or yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch slices
1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch slices
1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed
1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed and chopped
Sour cream

1. Place part of the pork cubes in a plastic bag with the flour. Shake around and remove to a plate. Continue with the remaining cubes until all are lightly dusted with flour. Add more flour if necessary. Place on a plate.
2. Melt the fat, whichever you choose, in a large, heavy skillet or sauté pan. Add as many pork cubes as will easily cover the bottom of the pan with some space around each cube. Don’t crowd. Turn until all sides are golden. Remove the browned pork from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining pork, adding more fat if necessary.
3. In the same pan, add the onions and garlic; cook until soft and all the golden crust (flour which stuck to the pan) from the bottom has been dislodged and mixed in with the onion.
4. Place the meat, onions and garlic in a large stew pot. Add the tomatoes, salt, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chipotle chile powder. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the tomatoes have softened and cooked. Add stock if the mixture is too thick.
5. Add the green chiles, the yellow squash and zucchini and simmer for 30 minutes or until the squash is nicely tender but not falling apart, adding a little more stock if necessary.
6. Five minutes before serving, mix in the corn kernels and half of the chopped cilantro. Simmer until the corn is cooked. Taste for seasoning.
7. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with a bit of the remaining chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. You can put bowls of sour cream and cilantro on the table and help yourselves.
Serve with flour tortillas (which would be traditional) or Lemon Cornbread which is not traditional but complements the stew nicely. With the stew, I would omit the blueberries in the Cornbread.

4-6 servings
I started with the recipe in The Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Santa Fe Kitchens: Delicious Recipes from the Southwest, but made a significant number of changes.

Lemon Cornbread

1 egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon soda
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter an 8 x 8 pan and set aside.
2. Whisk together the egg, zest, lemon juice, butter, and oil in a pitcher or small bowl. Stir in the buttermilk.
3. Mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
4. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the hole. Stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Fold in the blueberries if you wish. Do not over mix. Scrape batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Or eat right away.

If you have any leftover cornbread, you can slice a piece in half, lightly butter each half, toast and smear with honey.

Makes one 8 x 8 pan or about 9 servings
Adapted from The Junior League of Honolulu’s Aloha Days Hula Nights

1 comment:

Dave Chambers said...

"Lemon corn bread"... what could POSSIBLY be more Kiki???!!! This must be one of your signature ingredients, no? Love you Katherine, but I think I'll take my cornbread sans citron!

The stew looks great, and I can't wait to try it. You may also like this recipe for wild boar chili with tomatillos ( Talk about warming you up, this is another recipe you'll want to keep at hand throughout the winter months!

Dave Chambers