Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hatch Chile Verde

It's Hatch Chile time in New Mexico and Texas. Restaurants and grocery stores go crazy for these little chile peppers with special menus and roasting events. So, I felt obligated to put something together since I skipped Hatch Mania last year. 

To me, the easiest thing to make with these chiles is chile verde. It's such a simple recipe and there are not that many steps.  I like to serve this with either chicken or pork, today I chose chicken because I had some in the fridge. 

Roasting the chiles

First off you have to prepare the chiles by roasting them.  Since I no longer have a gas stove top I do most of my chile roasting in the oven under the broiler. If the weather is nice and I have a fire going on the grill I'll do them over wood or charcoal.  The oven is an easy and clean way to roast and doesn't really take too long.  You will need a Chile peppers, a large sheet pan, foil, medium sized bowl and a couple of seal able plastic bags.  Here are the steps to roast the chiles:

  • Turn on your oven broiler and set it to high
  • Set your oven rack so that its about 4-6 inches from the broiler
  • Line a full size sheet pan/jelly roll pan with foil
  • Rinse and dry the peppers
  • Take a knife and poke a couple of holes into each pepper
  • Spread chiles out on the sheet pan, don't over crowd.
  • Place the sheet pan with chiles under the broiler until the chiles are browned almost all over.
  • Carefully flip the chiles over to brown on the bottom side.
  • Remove from the oven and place the chiles in a locking plastic bag.
  • Seal the bag and let sit for 30 minutes. This steams the skins right off the chiles.
  • Fill a medium sized bowl halfway with warm water...set aside.
  • Carefully peel the skins off each chile.  Also remove the stems, seeds and any stringy     pieces.
  • To easily remove the seeds, tear off the stem end, split open the chile and dip into the bowl of water.  The seeds will rinse off and sink to the bottom of the bowl. There will be a couple remaining that you can just pick off. A couple of seeds left on is not a big deal.
     That's it!

At this point you can either use the chiles in a recipe or freeze them for future use.  During Hatch season people buy boxes of these to roast and freeze. 

The Chile Sauce

8 Hatch Chile Peppers - roasted, peeled and rough chopped (7 mild, 1 hot)
     (if you can't get these then use Anaheim peppers and add a jalapeno)
1 lb Tomatillos, husked and roasted (same method as the peppers but you don't have to peel them)
1 large white onion, rough chopped
1 bunch of cilantro
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp Mexican Oregano
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp Kosher salt
2 cups chicken stock
Either 4-5 corn tortillas (shredded) or 1 tbsp masa harina (or flour) mixed into 1/4 cup of water until smooth.

Optional:  1-2 Jalapenos, roasted, seeded, chopped

  • Heat up a Dutch oven or covered casserole dish over medium high heat.  Add olive oil.
  • Add the onions, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper and saute until onions are soft.
  • Add the chopped chile peppers, mix around and let cook.
  • In a blender, add the tomatillos, garlic and cilantro.  Blend until smooth.
  • Pour the blended mixture into the pot.  Stir to incorporate.
  • Bring to a boil then add the chicken stock. 
  • Bring to a boil again then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  • Add in the tortillas/masa-water mixture a little at a time to thicken.  You may not need to add all of it.

"Hatch" Chicken Chile Verde
At this point add in your chicken or pork. I used 3 chicken breast halves that I roasted in the oven
then with tongs broke it into big pieces. As the chicken cooked it just falls apart into the sauce. After you add the chicken or pork cover the dish and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. 

This made enough for 4 people to have a decent size serving over rice.  I'm using the leftovers for burrito filling.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Killer Shrimp, or something like it.....

I lived in Southern California for about 15 years.  I will say during that time I wasn't quite as into food as I am now and my likes were pretty basic. Even with that it wasn't very often that I found a restaurant that really made an impression.  I was a big fan of Tito's Tacos in Culver City.  They sell basic, crispy tacos by the boat load.  People would line up before they opened and there would be a line when they closed the doors.  The tacos were basic, good and consistent.  Their salsa was great, burritos were excellent and they had this cold, runny avocado sauce that they called guacamole that was extremely popular.  People would walk out of there with boxes of tacos. We would make the short trek there for lunch and bring back a couple dozen to snack on for the rest of the afternoon.  From what I understand Tito's is still going strong and probably outsells all those trendy taco trucks in LA.  If you are in the Los Angeles area and feel like some tacos, I highly recommend them. Tito's Tacos Website

But this entry isn't about tacos its about a shrimp dish that I fell for long ago.  I lived in West Los Angeles on the border of Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey.  It was a great little area to live in if you were single and had money to burn.  Nothing comes cheap out there.   I had heard a few people talking about this little restaurant that basically just served shrimp and that it was amazing. It wasn't far from where I lived so I went and tried it one night. It was exactly as they had said....amazing.  A dish so seemingly simple but so delicious.  Large plump shrimp floating in a big bowl of spicy red broth that was heaven to the taste buds.  Along with the shrimp the dish is served with a mound of French bread pieces which you use for dipping so you can savor every drop of broth. They also serve it with rice or angel hair pasta. I liked it best with just the shrimp, broth and bread.

I never would have guessed that this little hole in the wall back in the corner on the second floor of a strip mall would have created a dish that I would consider my favorite shrimp dish ever. But they did.  I was only able to enjoy this pleasure a few times before I moved out of the area and let it slip my mind.  By the time I came around and wanted to go back they had closed.  I tried a few other places that served similar dishes but none were ever quite as good.

And so time passed, I moved back to Texas and find myself more into food than ever.  I happened to follow a couple of "SoCal" food critics and newspaper folks on Twitter and I caught a mention that my old favorite was back in business.  I did a quick google of the name and there they were,  "Killer Shrimp".  It got me thinking that maybe now that I know a few things that I could possibly recreate the dish that had so long ago.  I searched for recipes and found several knock offs that seemed like they might be correct.  I took the basics from each one and gave it a try.  The results were EXCELLENT!  It had been so long that I am not sure exactly how the broth tasted but this one was good.  It was very good.  I don't know if its even close to what they were making but I will definitely be making this again and I already have ideas for variations using the same broth.  Hopefully you will try this and like it as much as I did.  Killer Shrimp Website


40 oz Low Sodium Chicken Stock
6-8 oz Clam Broth or Clam Juice
1 tbsp Dried Rosemary
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed and minced
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 stick of Butter
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (more or less depending on the heat you want, 2 tsp was nice and spicy)
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 - 1 1/2 lbs 21-25 shrimp, deviened (you can peel them or leave the peel on, I say leave the shell on)
1 large loaf of French Bread, torn or sliced into large chunks


Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind up the rosemary, thyme, celery seed, black pepper and red pepper. Put the ground spices/herbs into a 4 qt stock pot along with the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp.  Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 1 hour but if you can let it simmer for 2-3 hours it will be even better. Cover with a lid while simmering but leave it cracked open a just a little.

When you are ready to serve bring the heat up just a little so that the broth is just about to boil again. Add all the shrimp and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until the shrimp are almost done.  Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Serve this family style with the bread on the side for dipping. Give everyone a bowl and use a large spoon or ladle to serve.  This is finger food. Pick the shrimp out of the broth with your fingers, peel it and eat it.  Use the bread to sop up the sauce left in your bowl.  You might get a little sweat on your forehead depending on how much red pepper you used.

I hope you enjoy this.

Some variations I am thinking of.....

     a) Thicken the broth just a little with a roux and add some sausage.
     b) Before adding the shrimp add a cup of rice. Cook until the rice is done then add the shrimp.
     c)  Add Scallops and Crawfish along with the shrimp

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cooking Classes - Grady's Way

Grilled Ribeye, Double Cut Pork Chop,
Chicken Fried Steak, Gravy, Mexican Corn
I received last minute notice for a cooking class that was happening at Grady's Line Camp in Tolar this week. I had not been out there for awhile and I always enjoy these classes so I signed up and headed out. It's quite a haul out there from my side of town. An hour and a half with no traffic but on a week day you can't count on that. Still, once past all the freeway construction around here it's a nice drive in the country.

Pulling up to the Line Camp is like arriving in the Hill Country. It looks like an old cabin tucked away in the live oaks and pecan trees. The aroma of pecan wood smouldering in the smoker fills the air. You are already starting to relax and leave your city troubles behind. It's cowboy, but not fake cowboy. This place could easily be a bunk house or main house on working ranch. Pictures and awards dot the walls along with a few works by famous western artists. It's comfortable and it works.  

If you know Grady at all you know he pretty much does his own thing. These classes are no different.  They are not so much a formal class as they are just a sharing of knowledge and food. There are recipes that he gives out but from the start you learn that the recipes are merely a guide as is the menu. We started with appetizers of bacon wrapped stuffed jalapenos and chips & queso and both were very good. How many classes can you recall that started off like this?  There wasn't really any instruction on making these just a casual conversation among the "students" and Grady about cleaning the peppers, various preparation techniques, etc. Even as hot as it was out there those jalapenos were hitting the spot. While feasting on the peppers, queso and chips a herd of white tail deer was inching closer and closer to the porch. It would be really difficult to find that at a restaurant in the city.

As the appetizers came out Grady started up a demo on making albondigas in red chile sauce.  Questions were hurled at him from all sides about how do you do this or why are you doing this. He would explain it in simple terms that everyone could understand and follow. He would mix in a few humorous stories here and there, just like any cowboy would do. Tall tales are truly Texan as you know.   As he is mixing the ingredients for the albondigas he is also explaining how the Big Green Egg works and showing how to use it. While I not a fan of the Egg it was interesting to watch.  During the Egg instruction the subject of cooking steaks came up so the course was now subverted to a demo of how they prepare the beef tenderloins at the restaurant. I find that its always interesting to know how the restaurant does things so you can recreate at home the things you really like. That fits in with the tenderloin that Grady brought out and cooked for us. It was seasoned with a rub then lightly smoked over pecan wood. Then he coated it with brown sugar and seared it over high heat on the Egg. During this time was more discussion on cooking steaks, smokers, grills...none of which was on the agenda.  We sampled the steak and of course it was excellent. Melt in your mouth tender. You could taste the rub, the caramelized sugars, the smoke..perfect. We were also served chicken fried steak sliders while this was going on. These were on the agenda and no instruction given but with how good they were and also the steak grilling demo it wasn't missed by anyone.

So after the side session on grilling he got back to the albondigas. Mixing the ingredients a little more, adding things here and there rolling and forming them. By this time the whole schedule was out the door and food was coming out for us to eat.  As our eyes gazed upon the double cut pork chops and the ribeyes, Mexican style roasted corn and the massive chicken fried steaks, none of us really cared that not a whole lot of cooking had been done in the class. I would say more useful knowledge was shared in the couple of hours we were there than at any formal class you would attend. Oh, and we finally got to try the albondigas...well worth the wait. Firm, moist meatballs packed with flavor and roasted in a rustic red chile sauce. I forget how many I had but surely way more than my share.  We ate to our content while Grady sat there with us and spun more tales and continued to answer questions.

So what am I saying here?  If you get a chance to attend a cooking class at the Line Camp, take it. It's worth the price, worth the drive and well worth the time. And if not a cooking class at least go for the food and atmosphere. You won't find many places like this out there.

Grady's Line Camp Steakhouse
4610 Shaw Road
Tolar, TX 76476