Just when you think warm weather is here to stay old man winter blows through and reminds us that winter isn’t quite over. Chilly temps, outrageous winds, rain and grey skies played perfectly into my hand for “going green” month. I will give credit where due to my man Dan for suggesting a pot of green chili simmering on the stove could be just what we needed to cozy up our Friday. He proposed we bug Uncle Ray for his recipe. Now, Uncle Ray is not our uncle, he is our brother-in-law, uncle to our girls. He’s a much-loved uncle, thank goodness, as he is the only uncle they have who isn’t a great-uncle. Ok, enough of that . Try saying the word uncle 5 times in a row and it starts to sound like an odd, funny word.
Ray-man, as we refer to him is one heck of a helper in the kitchen and turns out some pretty darn good food too. He’s famous in our family for his one-eyed jacks, scrambled eggs with Velveeta, grilled elk steaks, good scotch and green chili. He’s also a skillful skier, hunter, fisherman and handyman, a super dad, husband, brother-in-law and uncle! One more thing, he is one of the most comical guys I know. Laughter is guaranteed when Uncle Ray walks into the room. I’m guessing his head is about to fall off of his shoulders as he reads this, due to the swelling taking place but hey, after you try this green chili and follow his directions to the letter you’ll understand his popularity in our family.
Talking green now, I have a dilemma in my search for food that is natural, fresh and sustainable. It’s more expensive, and much more challenging than just picking up whatever is on the carts in the produce section or behind the meat counter at my local grocery stores. I’ve bookmarked a list of local CSA’s to contact. Last year in Texas our drought conditions were such that many CSA’s weren’t able to produce enough food to actually participate in the way they are meant. Often times it was suggested that I wait until this spring to join . I’ll be on that task soon as the rain has fallen and drought conditions are lessening. Our freezer has elk meat and fresh caught fish, but when it comes to beef, pork and chicken I’ve limited sources for sustainable purchasing. I’ve found beef and chicken in our local grocery stores that are natural, grass-fed beef, and free range chicken, without antibiotics or broth injections. We can tell a difference in taste and texture, one we enjoy. I haven’t found any source for pork that meets these new-found requirements of mine but hopefully I’ll find a local farmer selling his fresh pork. I say all of this to lead up to the fact that I had to buy pork, from Hormel. Big corporate pork producer that they are. It saddens me, but I am conscientiously striving to change . Sorry pigs, I’m working on it.
Here is a link to an article that describes “sustainable”. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-john-salerno/what-is-sustainable-food_b_428570.html I think most of you know what I mean when I use that word but if you need a refresher this article sums it up. I am sure my hobby of beekeeping has caused me to think beyond what is easy in terms of our food sources and our environment. I wish I’d been smarter about it in the past but I don’t think it is too late to try to make a change to support local farmers, ranchers and our environs. Are any of you, my readers involved in this type of thinking? Are you already in the big middle of it? Any suggestions, tips, pointers or advice is welcome. Please leave me a comment and tell me what you’re doing to “go green”.
On to “Uncle Ray’s Green Chili”. It hit the spot! Tender chunks or pork, the flavor of roasted peppers, and garlic are the standouts. It warms you all the way down to your toes. I will copy the recipe exactly the way Aunt Peggy sent it, and in parentheses list any changes or additions I made. Be sure and follow the part where I’ve placed an asterisk, its most important. And one last word of advice, I quote Uncle Ray. “the most important ingredients are good company and really good scotch”.
Uncle Ray’s Green Chili
– Pork loin (sorry don’t know exact amount (weight) – we use a little more than 1/2 of the typical small pork loin prepackaged by somebody like Hormel or the local grocery store brand so you may want to take liberty with estimating ounces to be more exact) (the Orange Bee used 4.5 # of pork – to insure leftovers)
– 2 Tblsp oil
– 1 Heaping Tblsp chopped garlic (we use from jar from produce section of grocery store) (The Orange Bee uses fresh)
– 4+ Tblsp flour
– 4 c chicken broth + water is ok if add’l liquid is needed
– 1 14 oz can of peeled, chopped tomatoes
– Salt & Pepper to taste
– 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1/2 tsp onion powder
– 2 c chopped chiles (fineness to preference – we chop fine w/ knife but can use food processor). We use 2/3 Anaheim chiles (more mild) + 1/2 Pueblos (hotter)
(the Orange Bee used 6 Anaheims and 6 Hatch-as I had roasted already in the freezer)
(I also added 1/2 of a large jalapeño that needed to be used)
Optional: (I added 1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder, as it’s a favorite of mine in chili)
Cut pork into small pieces to your taste (1/4″ x 1/4″ or so). Brown pork in skillet of oil over medium heat. ** Pour yourself 2 fingers of single malt scotch on the rocks and sip throughout process. Add chopped garlic when pork is almost done and brown it as well. Add flour to skillet and mix to form paste. Add chicken broth slowly to make gravy to your desired thickness.
Mix in a crock pot the tomatoes (w/ juice), salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and chopped chiles. Add pork gravy mixture. Simmer together.
(I simmered the chili for several hours in a soup pot on my stove top as I started too late in the day to depend on the crockpot – either way works perfectly)