I’ve been a little out of the blogging loop–and the general society loop–lately. I had surgery a couple weeks ago to remove a bunch of uninvited guests from the raging party in my neck (sorry–cancer humor), and radiation to kick out a couple other spots. I feel like I’m in an alternate universe, not quite re-incorporated to “normal” society yet. I’m through the tough active treatment stuff for now, and it feels eerily quiet around here. I feel like I should be making phone calls, going to doctors appointments, freaking out over the next big decision, but all that’s left is to try to keep it low key, tell my “shoulds” to shush, and let my body heal.
Part of my healing process is re-starting the parts of life that make me feel like myself again, like posting here. I’ve been the lucky recipient of meals brought over from friends and family, and haven’t been doing much cooking myself, but have a few gems squirreled away for the near future until I’m in the kitchen full force again. The plus is, I have a lot of extra time I normally wouldn’t give myself to relax. This week, I saw Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 1, and because I couldn’t stand the suspense, I also saw the sequel. What food enthusiast wouldn’t enjoy a movie with raining food , and talking food, and an entire island made out of food? The reason I bring this up, is that this is the time of year when there are ingredients galore. We’ve got the tail end of the summer garden harvest (green tomatoes, anyone?), beautiful apples, pumpkins, and winter squash. The best part is that the chill in the air actually makes people want to cook. Even self-touted kitchen haters are not only “pinning”, but actually making fall recipes.
One ingredient that seems to linger through October are those roasted hatch chiles. If you are seeking hatches in Denver, all you have to do is hop in the car and drive down a busy street for a while, and you’ll come across a chile stand with peppers that range anywhere from mild to skull-and-crossbones-insanely-hot.
I have always wanted to make a good vegetarian green chile sauce. The kind you can either put in a breakfast burrito, or sop up with some soft corn tortillas in a soup bowl. When I was searching for a good New Mexico vegetarian green chile, I was surprised that I couldn’t find a recipe for the type of green chile sauce I like to eat. I came across many recipes using processed ingredients such as canned green enchilada sauce, or scantly seasoned recipes using just green chiles with water.
My idea of green chile may not be completely traditional, but I knew what I wanted–a warming sauce focused on the chiles, but balanced by smooth mellow onion and garlic, brightly flavored tomatoes, and thickened with a trick learned from Jamie Oliver, grated potatoes (many green chile sauces are thickened with either masa de harina or flour).
My finished sauce turned out to be just what I wanted. It was warming, spicy, with more diversity of flavor than some of those one-note green chile sauces you can buy in a jar. It would be perfect in a bowl on its own, scooped up with some tortilla chips or ladled over a burrito.
Vegetarian Hatch Green Chile Sauce
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 small paste tomatoes, such as Roma, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 cups chopped roasted green hatch chiles (skins removed)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and grated
- 2-3 jalapeños, chopped (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- juice squeezed from a lime, to taste
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the onion for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they’ve released their juices and softened. Add the green chiles, grated potatoes, jalapeños, broth, cumin and salt (start with a teaspoon and season to taste from there). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours, until chiles are very soft and the sauce appears to meld together.
Blend up the chile with an immersion blender (or carefully in a regular blender–allow to cool slightly and hold the top on the blender with a dish towel) until the sauce thickens, but still retains a salsa-like texture.
Season to taste with salt and lime juice.