Archive | September, 2013

Legendary Green Chili

23 Sep

Legendary Green Chili

The Legend
The story begins in 1968 in Pueblo Colorado, at the snack bar in Crown Discount Center where my fiancé was a cashier. His father was the store manager and loved the green chili served at the snack bar. One day I was in Crown Discount while my father-in-law-to-be was eating green chili so I tasted it and it was excellent. I was soon to be married so I asked the cook at the snack bar if I could get the recipe. She was a little reluctant but I assured her that I was moving far away (Boulder, Colorado) and the recipe was just for home use, no danger of commercial competition. So she wrote it down.

After we got married and moved to Boulder, I decided to make green chili. This was one of the first things I cooked in my very tiny kitchen in married student housing at the University of Colorado, so I was careful to follow the recipe as written.

I knew something was wrong as soon as I tried to taste it! As I lifted the spoon toward my face, the inside of my nose started to burn and my eyes watered!
Later I realized that the recipe called for 1 can of jalapeño pepper but it should have been 1 jalapeño pepper, not a whole can. But at the time, I just knew that my green chili  was far too spicy to even taste, never mind eat!

But we were broke and didn’t want all that food to go to waste, so I added lots of canned tomatoes until the green chili was still very, very spicy but actually edible, and  in fact, delicious. We had a lot of it, and green chili filled up my new pots and pans. We ate as much as we could, put the rest into Tupperware, and jammed it into our tiny married student housing freezer.

We were eating that stuff for months and served it to anyone who showed up. Its reputation grew. In fact, it was so spicy that friends and relatives would come to visit and have a bowl of this legendary chili to cure a head cold! It really could break a fever.

I have made green chili ever since, but with the correct recipe, printed below, which calls for one or two jalapeno peppers, not one or two cans. This will make a delicious green chili that it is hot and spicy but will not burn the inside of your nose at arm’s length. It is quick and easy to make, and a great recipe to serve for a crowd. And I still believe it has curative powers.

Oh, and yes, green chili is red. (The peppers are green but in a tomato-red sauce )

The Recipe

Cut 1lb beef stew meat or (or chuck or round steak) into 1/2 “cubes,  and sauté in olive oil, and season with a little garlic salt.

Add 2 large  (28 oz) cans tomatoes with liquid, 2 small (4 oz) cans chopped green chili, and 1 or 2 chopped jalapeño peppers (canned or fresh)*

Simmer 1 hour
Serve with white flour tortillas

*Be careful when you handle jalapeños. Don’t touch eyes or nose after touching a jalapeño pepper. If you have disposable kitchen gloves, use them.


Meat (or not)

–If you are looking for authenticity, the Crown Discount Center snack bar made this with pork. I use beef and there have certainly been no complaints.
–You can use 2 to 3 cups diced leftover roast beef if you prefer.  Just add to the soup.
–You can use chicken if you don’t want to use red meat. Cut the chicken meat (thigh or breast) into small cubes and proceed as above.
–If you want a vegetarian green chili, just leave out the meat altogether; add extra garlic and an extra can of tomatoes (2 cups).


–By all means use fresh chopped tomatoes if you have them.


–I use one jalapeño. If you want a mild chili you can omit the jalapeños altogether. If you like it hot, use two.  A lot of the heat in the peppers comes from the seeds. Leave the seeds out for a milder version.

Wheat/gluten-free options;

–The chili is already gluten free. There are gluten free flour tortillas on the market which are a bit stiff but warm them in the microwave and dunk them in your chili and they will be fine. Or serve with corn chips or a side of white rice (but NOT in the soup ).

By Randa Dubnick
Illustration is “Legendary Green Chili” by Randa Dubnick
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