Hatch, New Mexico at the time, 25 peppers may seem a paltry number. When I tweeted about buying them, friends from the southwest commented on the dreamy smells that waft through the town, filling the air with the aroma of roasted chiles, and confessed to buying pounds and pounds at a time (already roasted and peeled by the roadside vendor!) to eat througout the year. Wouldn't it be grand to live in a place where you can buy delicious roasted chiles from abuelas with carts on the side of the road? A small town famous for it's delicious produce? With a yearly festival celebrating peppers? And what a pepper it is, justifiably famous for its sweet heat and intensely green aroma.
Or maybe I'm just getting sentimental because I placed my first seed order of the year this afternoon, and I'm positively yearning for spring, for something fresh and verdant and spicy. This afternoon I saw three trees with buds on them! It's almost time to start seedlings! Daylight Savings ends in less than a month! I find that cooking from the freezer is a nice reminder that these dark, cloudy days of winter are not forever. If you didn't go nuts and roast and freeze a bunch of Hatch chiles last year when you had the chance, you might try making this stew with the canned variety, or using anaheim peppers if you can find them in stores now.
Potato and Green Chile Stew
adapted from Deborah Madison's What We Eat When We Eat Alone
Yes, I know I'm on a D-Mad kick. I can't help it if the woman's a genius with vegetables! Obviously this is scaled up from a one-person meal.
4-6 long green chiles or poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
3 tablespoon sunflower seed oil or other vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds (4-5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
4 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water (I used vegetables stock)
Sour cream to finish
Chopped cilantro to finish
Coarsely chop the chiles. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and stir frequently. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, garlic, and potatoes, followed by the chile along with a teaspoon of salt and stir. Let this all sizzle for a minute or two, then add the liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
Simmer all together about 25 minutes until the potatoes are completely softened. Taste and adjust seasoning (mine needed more salt and some pepper). Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, mash up a few of the potatoes to thicken the stew.
To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a plop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro if you like.