Canned chile peppers (Recipe: slow-cooked beef and green chile stew)
Updated January 2012.
It's possible, just possible, that I have more than my share of kitchen toys.
I mean serious tools and cookware, in multiples, like tagines and woks, Microplane graters, half a dozen really good santoku knives and nearly two hundred wooden spoons and utensils.
The current love of my life, however, is a single: it's my new slow cooker.
Like me, the slow cooker loves all kinds of stew, so I've had fun introducing it to my collection of canned chile peppers. Chipotles in adobo and green New Mexico chiles are mainstays in my pantry, along with fire-roasted Anaheim and other green chiles from mild to hot.
Chiles do more than add some kick to your cooking; they also contribute a significant dose of Vitamins A and C, iron and lutein, which has proven benefits for eyesight.
And in case the whole chile-chili-chilli thing is still a bit of a muddle, chile with an "e" is the pepper, chili with an "i" is the stew, and chilli with the double-L is the spelling used in other parts of the world (including Britain, Australia and many Asian countries) for what we here in the United States call chile peppers.
Now, what kind of chili do you make with your chiles?
Slow-cooked beef and green chile stew
If you don't have a slow cooker, make this in a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. I used a 4-quart oval slow cooker. "Stew beef" is a common cut, available in the meat department of your supermarket. Serves 6-8.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 lbs stew beef (boneless beef chuck), cut into two-inch chunks
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 4-oz cans whole green chiles, sliced into thick rounds
1 14-oz can Ro*Tel (diced tomatoes with green chile)
1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped, plus 1 tsp adobo sauce
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, homemade or store-bought
1/4 cup homemade or canned low-sodium beef broth
1 tsp cumin
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
In a large bowl, add the flour. Dry the beef with paper towels, and dredge each piece lightly in the flour.
Heat oil in a large frying pan, and brown the beef on all sides (be careful not to overcrowd the pan; brown the beef in batches). Add browned beef to a 4-quart slow cooker, along with all remaining ingredients except the arrowroot/cornstarch.
Cook on LOW for 8 hours (if using a Dutch oven, cook for 3-4 hours). Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce, if needed.
If at the end of the cooking time, the liquid has not thickened to a consistency you like, pour all but half a cup of the liquid into a sauce pan. Pour the remaining half cup of liquid into a measuring cup, and whisk in the arrowroot or cornstarch. Bring the liquid in the sauce pan to a low boil, and add the arrowroot mixture. The sauce will thicken, and you can reunite it with the stew.
Serve hot, over egg noodles or rice. Can be frozen.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Mexican beef, hominy and green chile soup, from Soup Chick
Green chile steak melt panini, from Panini Happy
Crockpot recipe for pork and green chile stew, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chile verde, from Simply Recipes
Seven-chile chili, from Homesick Texan