Cafe Society

What's cooking? Pete Marczyk goes New Mex in the city with green chile

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They usually bring a selection of some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them, and cook up a feast fit for kings ... or at least, patrons of Marczyk.

Every week, Pete and Barbara serve up recipes on the Cafe Society blog. This week, they did the Mexican hat dance while making green chile.

Pete's dissertation:

My first experience with Green Chile (caps intentional and used out of reverence) was about 20 years ago. I had moved to Denver from Massachusetts, and the only "chili" I knew was the red kind with lots of overworked finely ground beef and kidney beans. It was my first autumn in the Southwest, and I was captivated by this new scent of roasting chiles wafting from the roadside stands with giant signs proclaiming, "Hatch Green Chile War!" Instantly, I was like a dog on point. I could smell chiles being roasted from a mile away. All of a sudden I was pursuing green chiles and green chile stews of all kinds -- and they were everywhere.

Among my friends there was much discussion and debate: I quickly joined the fray. Thick or thin? Tomatoes or tomatillos? potatoes or flour? Oregano or cumin? Pork loin or shoulder? How could I have lived twenty-some years without even a hint of such an exquisite and complex thing? Such was the plight of a turtlenecked New Englander.

I soon developed a self-proclaimed sophisticated green chile palate -- and being a hands-on kinda guy, I set out to make the perfect green chile. What I really learned over the last fifteen or so years is that green chile is as individual as driving, sex or grilling. Everyone has an opinion, and, of course, each opinion is the best opinion.

Here's my opinion:

This so-called master recipe is the basic core of a traditional Southwestern-style green chile stew sometimes referred to as New Mexican green chile stew, or Pueblo green chile stew. The recipe has as many variations as there are stars in the Taos night sky. I always serve mine with plenty of freshly browned warm tortillas.