Green chile discussion -- over sources, over spelling -- heats up in the new year

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As an end-of-the-year public service to those who were going to need hot, hot green chile to cure their hangovers on January 1, Lori Midson offered her list of "Denver's ten best green chiles."

Any discussion of green chile always stirs the pot. Fans of those that didn't make the list complain -- where was former Best of Denver winner Santiagoextra hot? -- and there's usually a quibble from a New Mexico native, who disdains the gravy-like consistency that green chile acquired as it moved north. And then there's the wonky tangent on the official spelling of "chile," which came up again this time.

Since Westword scribes have been writing about green chile -- which means about five minutes after we first tasted this uniquely Colorado creation -- we've been spelling it with an "e," to signify how very important chiles are to this dish, and how very different it is from chili con carne.

We investigated the spelling issue again last fall, when the New York Times offered a recipe for "Pork-and-Green Chili Stew," adapted from the Pepper Pot in Hatch, New Mexico. And we reaffirmed our devotion to green "chile," but accept that reasonable minds can disagree.

Our bigger concern was with the Times's use of "green chilies," which inspired this assessment from our copy editor:

The singular is either chile or chili, depending on your preference -- and in both Spanish and English (with a few exceptions), when a word ends in a vowel, the plural is formed by adding an s, not -es. In the NYT article, the singular is spelled "chili." I have no idea why they added -es to make it plural.

chili- chilis

chile - chiles

Here's that New York Timesrecipe -- complete with "green chilies":

Pork-and-Green Chili Stew

1 1/2 pounds pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into small strips or chunks 1 medium onion, roughly chopped Salt 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their liquid 2 cups roughly chopped roasted or broiled green chilies Garlic powder, optional Warm flour tortillas or rice for serving.

1. Put a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking, just until the meat juices evaporate, about 8 minutes (you're not looking to brown the pork here). Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, tomatoes and 1 cup water, not quite enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, and let it boil vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chilies, a sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of garlic powder if you're using it. Reduce the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily, and cover partly. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, 6 to 10 minutes (there should be some juices left in the bottom of the pot, but the mixture shouldn't be soupy). Taste, add a little more salt if necessary and serve with warm flour tortillas or over rice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

You say chili, we say chile. Either way, we could use some Santiago hot right now.

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