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Author Notes: I lived in New Mexico for almost a decade where green chile is not just a food, it’s a way of life. Now living on the East Coast and lacking access to fresh authentic New Mexican green chile, I am always searching for recipes to bring back some of that nostalgic Land of Enchantment flavor. This was inspired by Big Girls Small Kitchen’s Healthy Chicken Chili with Barley, and this stew’s hearty flavor will make you feel at home no matter where you live. —Laura Abbasi
Serves 6-8 generous portions
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (I usually don’t measure, just eyeball to ensure that the onion, garlic and pepper are adequately oiled)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green pepper, trimmed and diced
- 1 yellow or green zucchini, diced
- 2 Mexican green chiles, diced (fresh or frozen is best, but one small can will do in a pinch – you can find in any Mexican food store or aisle where Hispanic foods are sold)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian herbs mix
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon yellow Indian curry powder (or more to taste)
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with roasted green chile (Muir Glen has a great organic one)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- 4 organic chicken thighs (skin on makes for fattier, richer stew, skin off is leaner)
- 3/4 cup barley (or any grain mix, i.e. brown basmati, wheat berries, rye berries, spelt, pearled barley, bulgur, etc.)
- 5 cups water
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat (I use my 6 3/4-qt. oval Le Creuset pot to provide extra room so the stew is not spilling everywhere). Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and zucchini and sautée until all are translucent.
- Push the veggies to the side of the pot, and add the chicken skin side down. Brown the chicken on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Add the spices, salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and mix everything together. Add the barley (or rice, whatever grains you choose) and 5 cups of water. Bring the chili to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 40 minutes.
- Add the diced green chiles to the stew as well as the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles and return the shredded chicken, discarding the bones and skin. Stir together and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
- Taste for salt and other spices, adding more as needed. Depending on how thick you like your stew, you may want to add a bit of water if this is too thick for your taste.
- Last, but not least add a small handful of chopped cilantro leaves just before serving. You could use the cilantro as garnish or stir it into the stew, which is what I do. If cilantro is not your thing, you may also consider adding a bit of shredded cheddar cheese.
- This chile stew is great the first day, but even more delicious the second day when the flavors really come together in spicy, hearty harmony. I typically make the stew, let it sit on the stove until it cools, then refrigerate in storage containers and enjoy the following day. I have not tried freezing this stew (it’s too good to last that long), but I imagine it will fare well in the freezer.