The comments have been coming fast and furious — mostly furious — since we posted our list of the ten best green chiles in Denver two weeks ago. Readers argued over what we’d included on the list — one called it “yuppie bullshit” — and what we hadn’t: Where was Chubby’s? As the battle of the bowls waged on, the discussion shifted to a fiery debate over the relative merits of Colorado-style green chile compared to New Mexico verde.
Among those weighing in was Hosea Rosenberg, season-five winner of Top Chef and today chef-owner of Blackbelly Market in Boulder. “The only true green chile is from New Mexico! Good thing we have lots @BlackbellyCo,” he wrote.
Turns out, Rosenberg comes by his preference naturally. “I was born and raised in Taos,” he says. “You grow up eating it all the time; it’s on almost every table. It’s a sauce to smother things, but you also eat it by the bowl. As a kid, one of the best things was to come home after school and have a dish of green chile with some tortillas. I crave it.”
He got a chance to enjoy some in situ last weekend, when he went down to New Mexico for a wedding and a big group ate at the Shed in Santa Fe. “Their green chile is so good,” he says. “It’s so spicy, thin. It’s addictive. A lot of those people hadn’t experienced New Mexico green. They went nuts.”
But then, people have also been going nuts for the green-chile posole that Rosenberg now offers in Boulder, a variation on a dish often featured during the holidays in New Mexico. “They’re begging me never to take it off the menu, saying I need to make it a staple,” he says. Which is possible, since he always has two soups on the dinner menu at Blackbelly, and posole could turn into a signature dish there. But you can also get hominy-free green chile smothering a Blackbelly breakfast burrito.
The key to a great green is the chiles: “If they’re not from Hatch, it’s not green chile,” Rosenberg pronounces. Shortly before he opened Blackbelly last fall, a friend drove up 600 pounds of chiles from Hatch, and they sat in the parking lot drinking beer and roasting chiles for twelve hours, he recalls. Rosenberg blew through that load pretty fast, but he still gets his chiles from the legendary area and brews up big batches of New Mexico-style green, flavored with his own culinary talents.
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Pressed to name a Colorado-style green chile that he likes, Rosenberg mentions Santiago’s. “But my favorites are in people’s homes,” he says. “It’s comfort food. That’s what you want.”