turkey and green chili

I have flour tortillas but I'm not eating them.

* crosses arms, assumes resolute stance *

I'm presently watching my boyish figure. I'm watching it outgrow all my size 30 waist pants, which means I'm outgrowing all my pants and although a whole row of a walk-through closet is filled to bursting with pants on their own hangers, hanging upside down in there like condemned criminals, I'm nearly pants-less. A bit short, as it were, of size 31. And that will never do.

I'm also doing sit-ups. Today I did forty. OK FINE! Thirty-eight.

turkey, chili plate
turkey, chili close up

This is frozen turkey held over from Thanksgiving and frozen chili I made some time last year that I'm getting tired of seeing every time I open the freezer. Time to move the contents out of that cold box, by eating it!

Honestly, it's better than I expected. Damn, that chili is good. I've made it a hundred different ways and it seems you just can not go wrong. It's possible to use all canned ingredients, apart from the protein portion and the alliums, if you feel like slumming it, but it's not significantly better if you trouble yourself to pre-roast all your vegetables, although that certainly is fun. If you use pork, then you'll find the cubed meat cooks surprisingly fast. Beef less so. I've even used a lamb roast cubed resulting in a funkier, old-world flavor that was not disagreeable. In fact, I made so much I gave away about a ton (<--- possible exaggeration) and I'm still getting reports of that being shared at supper parties. You can use roadside Hatch chiles, fresh chiles that you char and peel yourself, or canned chiles, makes little difference in quality. I mean quality in terms of overall goodness, it makes a huge difference in quality of depth and range of flavor. Use a combination of chiles; load up on Poblanos and Anaheim chiles for great chile vegetable flavor. It should be 50% green chiles 50% protein. Then supplement with a combination of Jalapeño, Japon, Thai, Cayenne, Serrano, Habanero for heat and range of chile flavors. See the respect I show for these chiles? I capitalize them! Layer them flamboyantly. They can all be added either fresh, or in powder, flake, or liquid sauce form. It's all good. Tomatillos can be fresh, roasted and skinned, or canned. I've even seen frozen. Tomatillos are not little green tomatoes, although, like tomatoes, they are another member of the nightshade family, and even though in Spanish they're called tomate verde (But then, lime is limón in Spanish, at least it is in Mexico, so there ya go. For these things to make sense, it helps to remain a little bit linguistically flexible.). Tomatillos have a papery husk with a slightly sticky protective layer underneath. They're tart.

Tomatoes, can be fresh, roasted, smoked, peeled, or canned. If fresh, use a lot and best to peel these suckers because the skin has a tendency to cook right off, then the skin pieces roll up into unappetizing little red pins that float around in in your stew. Then you spend time picking through your bowl trying to get rid of them. You can just score a cross into fresh tomatoes and blanch for about thirty seconds and easily remove the skins. But canned tomatoes work fine, just add them near the end of the cooking period so they don't disappear altogether into unappealing mush.

I used to make chile with only fresh ingredients but that's a lot of work and not necessary. Go easy on yourself. A pork shoulder, a #10 restaurant sized can of chiles cut up, a few cans of hot jalapeño, another large can of tomatillos, a few, up to four large cans of diced tomatoes, and you're good to go. For a party. A large party. A large party of voracious chile eaters.

Start out by cubing and browning the meat in batches if necessary. If you coat the cubes with flour, bits will stick to the bottom of the pot. That layer of burned-on bits builds up over a series of batches, lifted off once liquid is added, it contributes significantly to the depth of flavor of the finished stew.

Throw in a boat load of diced onion, and at least one entire bulb of garlic, also diced.

Consider adding tomato paste, although it's not necessary. This can be a little bit burned onto the bottom of the pot.

Add the meat back into the pot.

Add water, beer, or stock, wine, or any combination.

Add the diced chiles, tomatillos, and reserve the tender tomatoes for the final 1/2 hour.

* bay leaf
* Mexican oregano (it's stronger than Greek oregano) use Italian blend if you feel like it. Thyme is good too.
* coriander
* cumin
These two, coriander and cumin are essential. Your chili is something less than Mexican chili without them. It would be the equivalent to culinary felony to omit them. When you open the jar to add these two spices, you'll know immediately you're on the right track.

* your stew can be thickened any way you wish, but masa (corn flour treated with lye used for making tamales and for corn tortillas) adds a flavor and aroma uniquely South of the Border. Lacking that, Mr. Gringo, you can toss in a few tortilla chips and let them dissolve. Or, you can just let your stew be watery. Nothing wrong with that.

Garnish with cilantro. Oh! That reminds me, I must plant some cilantro today. I have to get rid of that tired worn out parsley and replace it with cilantro. Cilantro, as you well know, is the green portion to the plant with seeds known as coriander. Want to know what I learned about coriander seeds? OK, goes sumpin like this: This is hard-gained knowledge after much failure, lots of talking to the people at the spice shops, and internet research. Finally, I found my answer, after reading dozens of pages devoted to the subject, in a seed catalog that offered "pre-split" cilantro seeds. I wondered, why would anybody want their seeds to be split? I learned, those round little BB looking seeds are actually two seeds inside a round husk. Why none of the pages mentioned this is beyond me. That's why they germinate so unreliably, they must have the outer husk deteriorate first, and when they do germinate, you'll notice two tiny plants emanating from the same spot. You can buy coriander (or cilantro) seeds already split, for more confident germination. The whole coriander seeds you buy in jars as spice, is perfectly suitable for planting if they're fresh, for cilantro. I recommend splitting them first, by rubbing them with gentle pressure until they break apart. When they do break apart, they do not break into two perfect semi-spheres. They look more like tiny broken up chunks.

This concludes my coriander/cilantro and pork green chili pedantry for the day.

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