Chile Colorado is a rich, hearty dish that can be made with beef, pork or even chicken. I like to make mine with lean, mild-tasting pork that soaks up the flavor of dried red chiles that have been reconstituted.
Although this recipe requires about 2 hours of cooking time, most of that is unattended, while the Chile Colorado is simmering away on the stove.
- 8-10 dried New Mexico or California red chiles, stemmed and de-seeded as much as possible
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbs. lard or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes (or substitute beef chuck or even boneless chicken)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- First, we’ll make the chile base for the chile Colorado. Begin by tearing the chiles into pieces and shaking out as many seeds as you can. Toast the chile pieces in batches on a hot griddle, pressing down with a spatula for a few seconds on each side, until the chiles smoke slightly and get a bit darker in color.
- While you’re searing the chiles, bring a pot of water (at least 2 cups) to boil. Remove the water from the heat and submerge the chile pieces in the water to soften. Cover the chiles with a small plate to help keep them submerged in the water. Allow the chiles to soak for 30 minutes. When finished, reserve 1 cup of the water from the soaked chiles.
- Transfer the chiles to a blender, along with the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and 1 cup of the reserved chile water. Puree the chile mixture in the blender until smooth, with no chile chunks left. If necessary, add a little more water if the mixture is too thick and won’t blend.
- Using a medium-mesh sieve, strain the chile mixture into a bowl. Use a spatula or the back of a large spoon to push the chile mixture through the sieve.
- Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dry the pork on paper towels to remove any moisture and fry in a single layer until well-browned, about 9-10 minutes, scraping the pan frequently.
- Next, turn the heat down to medium and add the chile puree in the bowl to the pan with the pork. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring and scraping frequently, until the mixture turns a little darker in color and thickens some.
- Stir in the salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low. Allow the chile Colorado to simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or longer, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of cream. If the sauce gets too thick, just add a little more water.
- Serve with warm tortillas and sides like Mexican rice or fideo.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.