The Hatch Green Chile Stew That Helps Me Stay Connected To My Family

Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today, we're making a pot of New Mexican Hatch green chile stew with one of Refinery29's writers, Olivia Harrison. The recipe was passed down from Olivia's Grandmother, Vera (short for Elvira), who was born on the border of Colorado and New Mexico where Hatch green chiles grow. Vera was raised on a ranch in an all Spanish-speaking community before marrying and moving to Tennessee with Olivia's grandfather in 1953. "She was living in this town with a bunch of white people...where she didn't know any Latinos," Olivia says. Making the stew became a way for Vera to stay connected to her culture, "She would make it for my grandfather's family — and they loved it so much — it was something they'd never had before."
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The recipe became a family tradition and was passed on through the generations, with Olivia's mother (Vera's daughter) and sister making it for their own families. "We eat this dish on Christmas Eve every year. I remember growing up, my friends would have their traditional Christmas dinners with ham and I would tell people, 'Oh, we have chile and beans and we make homemade tortillas.' That just seemed like such a special thing I had growing up," Olivia says. The recipe is easy to customize — you can make it spicy or mild, with a soupy or thicker stew-like consistency. Olivia loves how the comforting dish ends up a little different each time she makes it. "All of the instructions are pretty loose. It just depends on how you like it and what ingredients you have — you can add in potatoes, corn, whatever you want," she says.
All these years later, Vera still travels to New Mexico in order to harvest and roast her own Hatch green chiles for the stew. "When my grandmother first moved to Tennessee, there was no commercial Hatch chile brand — so she always roasted her own. She'll go out there a few times a year and bring suitcases back full of chiles," says Olivia. It's a labor of love that the rest of the family lacks expertise to undertake. So instead of handpicking and roasting her own, Olivia opts to buy pre-roasted jars of chiles online, "I have a specific brand that I really like and you can order it on Amazon called Zia."
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Aside from affordability and ease ($40 for a week's worth of customizable leftovers that can also be frozen), Olivia considers her grandmother's recipe a way to stay connected to her culture and her family. Watch Olivia in action above as she shows us how her grandmother's New Mexican stew is made. Try it for yourself at home with the full recipe below — and her recommended comfort food cooking uniform: pajamas and slippers with good music on in the background.
Hatch Green Chile Stew
Serves 6
Ingredients
6 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. 85-91% lean ground beef
6 tbsp flour
1 jar Zia-roasted Hatch green chiles
2 dashes cumin
2 tsp salt
3 dashes oregano
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups water
For Serving
1 can Luck’s pinto beans
Tortillas
Tomato, chopped
Onion, chopped
Cheese
Instructions
1. Put 6 tbsp (or less) oil in large pot — add ground beef and set heat to medium to start sautéing.
2. After a few minutes, add in 6 tbsp flour to coat and continue to brown the meat.
3. Once browned, stir in chopped green chiles, cumin, and salt. Once incorporated, add in oregano and garlic cloves and continue to cook.
4. After above ingredients are well-incorporated, finish with 4 cups water (this depends on how thick you want it) and turn heat down to low — letting the mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes.
5. Once the stew has simmered and the beans are heated, you can serve it in a bowl, on its own, or over other dishes.
*Here’s how I serve mine: Lay a warmed tortilla on a plate, cover it in cheese, add a scoop of beans and a scoop of chile, and finish by topping it off with chopped tomato and raw onion.
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