In this special weekly feature, “Today” food editor Phil Lempert brings you recipes “stolen” (with permission) from notable restaurants across America. See how much fun you can have (and money you can save) by cooking these dishes at home.
THIS WEEK: Green Chile Chicken Stew & Green Chile Sauce from El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Since 1962, El Pinto Restaurant has been dishing up New Mexican dishes made from Josephina Chavez-Griggs' recipes, grandmother of current owners Jim and John Thomas. We hope you like this homey easy-to-make feel-good Green Chile Chicken Stew as much as we do. We couldn't help ourselves and we also "stole" some tips to help you create some delicious tummy-warming Green Chile Sauce yourself. It's perfect for many recipes that require a sauce! So if you like some fire, use liberally. Or as John would say, "Chile makes you feel good." It sure does, John!
Perfect Tummy-Warming Green Chile Tips
During the green chile harvest in New Mexico, you'll see gas-powered chile roasters going almost non-stop. Most chile vendors and supermarkets offer roasting for a fee. It's worth it just to smell the aroma of the roasting chiles! But, you don't need an elaborate roaster to get good results. Here are some tips from El Pinto:
- Whether you get your chiles from the local supermarket or pick them fresh in the fields, select large, firm, meaty chiles with no sign of wilting. Wash before use.
- Slit each pepper lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds and membranes with a spoon. Some people don't remove the seeds before roasting, but we think they're easier to remove at this stage. By the way, when handling chiles, either wear gloves or coat your hands with vegetable oil, and don't touch eyes or other sensitive areas.
- If roasting the chiles indoors, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. A layer of foil makes for easier cleanup later. Place in the oven (4 to 5 inches from the broiler element). The skin will blister and turn black. Turn the peppers as required to blister all sides evenly. At this point, your kitchen should be filled with the mouth-watering aroma of roasting green chile!
- If it's a nice day outdoors, and if you have a good gas barbecue grill, you can roast your chiles that way. Arrange the peppers over high heat, turning as necessary to blister the skins evenly on all sides. Whichever roasting method is used, the pepper skins should be evenly blistered, mostly black. Cover the hot chiles with a damp kitchen towel for 15 minutes or so. This steams them and loosens the skins. (You can also use a plastic bag to steam the peppers, but let them cool a minute so the bag doesn't melt!)
- If you're having green chile for dinner tonight, the peppers are ready to use now. Just slip the skins off and stuff, chop, etc. Otherwise, package the cooled chiles in airtight containers for freezing. We think leaving the peppers whole and freezing with the skins on results in a better texture and flavor when thawed. When ready to use, thaw for a few minutes and the skins slip off easily. Drain on paper towels and you're ready to cook.
About the owners of El Pinto: Twin brothers, John Thomas Jr. and Jim Thomas, took over the family business in 1994 and since then have made El Pinto Restaurant the largest restaurant in New Mexico and made their salsa and green chile sauce available to chile lovers throughout the nation.
John spent two decades designing and building properties in Alaska where he developed skills in unique building structures and equipment operations. He studied structural engineering, business law and finance and is a licensed commercial building contractor. He oversees every project in the expansion and development of El Pinto Foods and the El Pinto Restaurant.
Both brothers are members of the National Restaurant Association, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, "Taste the Tradition," and the New Mexico Food Producers Association. They reside in their hometown of Albuquerque with their families.
Green Chile Chicken Stew is served at El Pinto Restaurant for $3.99/cup or $5.99/bowl. The Green Chile Sauce is sold for $2.99/16 oz. jar. This Green Chile Chicken Stew is for a serving size of two. The recipe for Green Chile Sauce yields 5 cups (or 10 servings).Recipe: Green Chile Chicken Stew & Green Chile Sauce (on this page)
El Pinto Restaurant
10500 4th Street NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87114
Want to nominate your favorite restaurant dish for a "Steal This Recipe" feature? Just e-mail Phil at Phil.Lempert@nbc.com (or use the mail box below) with the name of the restaurant, city and state, and the dish you would like to have re-created. Want to know more about Phil and food? Visit his Web site at www.supermarketguru.com.