Top five qualities of the best green chile stew

It's roasting time again!
It's roasting time again!

Green chile season is now upon us, and this means the pervading aroma of burning chiles will soon fill the air as parking lots fill up with eager chile-philes waiting patiently, burlap bags in hand, for their turn to watch the roasters work their rolling, smoking magic. This season also translates to many stoves capped with many pots of green chile stew -- every one of them different, and some better than others.

Here's my list of the top five qualities of the best green chile stew. Pay close attention, because when folks don't like your green chile, they aren't shy about letting you know it....

Top five qualities of the best green chile stew

5. Balance -- ingredient ratios in line with the universe.

If you screw up the delicate and crucial ratio of pork to chile, the Jedi will feel it. The best chile stews and sauces use pork, not beef -- and if you pollute it with ground beef, you deserve to be spat upon. And that's cubed pork, with just enough fat to make the broth rich, but not enough to make oily pools in the stew. A good balance is one part pork to three parts chile, because too much pork makes the sauce clunky, and too little is stingy and unsatisfying. Use enough garlic to flavor but not overwhelm, and a nip of diced tomatoes and potatoes - just enough to add color and texture.

4. Consistency and color -- medium-thick and greeny-tan.

Thin, watery green chile sauces and stews serve no useful purpose -- except maybe to showcase your noob skills -- and sauces that are thick like oatmeal don't par-sink gracefully between the folds of tortillas and over the ends of enchiladas. You want a medium-thick consistency that won't turn your rellenos into soggy sponges. Good color is definitely a marker of a fine sauce; we see it before we put it in our mouth-holes. Greeny-gray is a bad color, and straight gray is worse. You want a khaki-to-light caramel gravy punctuated with vivid green, with accents of red tomatoes and white potatoes, and tiny black char-bits--like a bright, springtime camouflage pattern.

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