There’s a chill in the air, but this recipe for Hatch green chile stew keeps the heat on. “This is a farewell dish to winter — a way to say goodbye and see what spring brings,” says Arturo Franco-Camacho, executive chef of Geronimo Tequila Bar & Southwest Grill in Fairfield and New Haven.
It’s a versatile one-dish meal using ingredients from Mexico, Franco-Camacho’s native country, that can be personalized. He suggests switching up the beef with chicken, turkey, venison or buffalo. “It’s as simple as putting the ingredients together with the right timing and provides a meal to be enjoyed for two to three days and always tastes better the next day,” he says, noting that the hot Hatch peppers give it a unique flavor. “Add as much heat as you can handle — you’ll still enjoy the earthy, full dish of flavors. Lastly, enjoy it with a great local beer!”
After a career in dentistry in Mexico, Franco-Camacho cooked at his mother’s restaurant then committed to it full time upon coming to the U.S. and graduating from culinary school. “It came very natural to me. I was destined to do this,” says Franco-Camacho, also the executive chef of Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill in New Haven.
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Working his way up from washing dishes, he’s traveled around the world to sample different cuisines. “It inspires me to see other things and experience other influences.”
Franco-Camacho believes passion in cooking is contagious. “Chefs nurture people with care and good intentions while creating something unique for guests,” he says. “They can help create passion in someone by teaching them how to care, treating food with respect, and understanding the desire to give something back.”
Hatch green chile stew
Preparation time: 45 minutes-1 hour
- 2 pounds lean ground beef (can substitute other meats, such as chicken or turkey)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, small dice
- 8 Hatch green chiles, roasted, stemmed, seeded and chopped (these can be purchased at gourmet supermarkets. Or you can substitute Anaheim chili peppers)
- 1 can (15 ounces) organic tomato sauce
- 2 pounds kidney beans
- 24 ounces diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock (you can substitute with water)
- Salt, to taste
1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Drain off the rendered fat, remove fat from the pan and set aside.
2. Add oil to the pan and sauté onions and bell peppers until translucent, about 6 minutes.
3. Add chiles and ground meat; stir together. Add tomato sauce, beans, diced tomatoes, cumin, black pepper, and 4 cups chicken stock or water.
4. Bring the chile mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until thickened, approximately 45 minutes to one hour. When done, the consistency will be stew-like with some liquid, but not dry.
5. Season to taste with salt and garnish as desired. You can serve it plain or layer your favorite toppings such as shredded cheese, diced onion, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, etc. (One of Franco-Camacho’s favorite toppings is pico de gallo followed by queso fresco cheese.)