Green chile is a common menu item for restaurants in Colorado. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find a dining establishment that doesn’t offer some variation of the classic dish.

When I first moved from Maine to Colorado, I was naive to the whole green chile scene. After learning that green chile was varieties of New Mexican chiles added as a topping or filler to many foods, I knew I had found a new favorite meal. I quickly became aware of the high standards and popularity of green chile and embraced this niche of Colorado foodie culture.

From burgers to burritos and anything in between, green chile is the perfect compliment to almost any meal.

So, where did green chile come from?

Pueblo Native Americans have cultivated chiles for centuries, but the modern renditions of the peppers we eat today began with one man. Dr. Fabián Garciá is considered a pioneer horticulturist, and we can thank him for the development of New Mexican chiles we eat in our green chile today. According to New Mexico State University where Garciá attended college (formerly New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts), the pioneer changed the face of New Mexico’s agriculture in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

All New Mexican-type chile peppers grown today owe their genetic base to Garcia’s New Mexico No. 9 cultivar- his first advancement in pepper technology. The strains and recipes used by our neighbors to the south have since migrated to our kitchens here in Colorado.

Looking for somewhere to taste famous green chile dishes? Try these places.

  1. The Shack Cafe — Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  2. The Ditch on 40 — Winter Park, Colorado
  3. La Cocina de Luz — Telluride, Colorado
  4. Teocalli Tamale — Crested Butte, Colorado 

If you live in the Denver area, here’s where to find some of the best green chile dishes close to home.

DIY Green Chile

The mountain town folk in Colorado love their crockpots for convenience. Throw something in, turn it on, go ski all day, and return home sore and chilly to a warm meal. Thanks to Genius Kitchen, here’s an awesome homemade green chile recipe sure to warm your belly after a long day on the hill.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 2-3 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopping
  • 1 big tomato, chopped (some claim that you should omit the tomato for “authentic Colorado” green chili)
  • 3 fresh jalapeños, minced
  • 1 lb of pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
  • 1 8 ounce can of green chiles (or fresh if you prefer)
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt, to taste
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 0.5 cups of flour

Directions:

Pour broth into slow cooker and turn on high. Fry bacon until just done, add bacon to broth, but keep grease in pan to fry veggies. Sauté garlic and onion together. Add fresh jalapeños and tomato to the sauté. Transfer veggies to the broth. Brown chucks of pork on all sides and add to the broth. Add fresh cilantro, cumin, salt, and garlic powder to broth. Stir well. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, stirring occasionally. When serving, pull chunks of pork apart to desired size. Serve as a soup or use as a sauce for burritos.

Events Surrounding Green Chile (yes, they exist.)

1. The Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival is held each year in late September and celebrates Pueblo’s harvest.

2. Westwood Chile Festival: an event celebrating hispanic culture with authentic food in the Denver area.

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