Chile Colorado with Chicken and Vegetables

Like the next gal, I’m quite happy purchasing locally grown food, especially meats, and I make a concerted effort to seek it out.  With only a few abattoirs on Vancouver Island, buying local chicken, lamb, beef, and even goat, is of utmost importance to keep our food systems healthy, sustainable and in our own backyard, so to speak.  So a couple of weeks ago while purchasing the last of winter’s cabbage, carrot and other root vegetable harvest, I saw that the farm stand was also carrying an extra bonus of Island grown chickens. I asked where they were from and the cashier thought they were from nearby Mill Bay. Sort of like anonymous poultry. But they’re local right? They must be free range, right? I found the smallest I could get my hands on and roasted the bird in my usual style, stuffed with lemons and herbs. That chicken not only had wandering room, I think it might also have been a marathon runner, a professional dancer, maybe even an Olympic athlete. Tough and dry, that chicken lived a full and active life.  Good for you, chickie. With ruffled feathers, I faced my disappointment and a whole lot of leftovers the next day.  I mulled over my options and decided to make a chicken stock with the bones, and a chicken stew with the meat. I turned to Mexico for inspiration, natch! That rhymes with hatch, and they were at the top of the chile pile. A nice bag of 12  New Mexican hot hatch chiles and a recipe for chile colorado on the back of the package. With a little improvisation, I think I elevated the original, adding garlic cloves and extra ground cumin and Mexican oregano to the mix, using masa to thicken the delicious stew, instead of the requested flour, and chicken stock to achieve the right consistency.

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Add to that, quartered mushrooms, green beans, chayote squash, chunk of winter’s potatoes and chicken meat. Once the chiles were soaked, blended and strained they became the most velvety sauce to carry those ingredients to a successful end. Served with hot corn tortillas, and steamed white rice, I think I’ll be asking a few more questions about a chicken’s life in the great outdoors before it flies the coop, so to speak.

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