|Green chile stew with pork and potatoes. © Ryan Schierling|
There is no question as to the permanence of Texas red chili being the Lone Star State's one and only. It was declared to be the state dish of Texas in 1977 by House Concurrent Resolution No. 18, with President Lyndon Johnson brazenly declaring that "chili concocted outside of Texas is a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing."
I wouldn't go so far as to call chili in New Mexico weak or apologetic, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it chili, either. It's chile stew.
Technically, there is no state dish of New Mexico. They do have an official state question which is directly related, and that is "Red or green?" If you can't decide, you just say "Christmas," and whatever plate you've ordered will get smothered in a little bit of both red and green chile sauce.
The green version of this stew is my favorite, and it's fairly easy to make. My recipe is not "authentic," as I use poblano and jalapeño peppers in addition to the Hatch green chiles, but like I said, I'm not from New Mexico. This is my Old Mexico recipe for New Mexico green chile stew – by way of Washington state, Virginia, Colorado and Kansas – which is a little closer to a caldillo.
It is as far away from the Midwestern red chili of my youth as can be, which was a thickly-tomato sauce-based, ground beef and kidney bean-filled bowl, heavily-spiced with ground chili powder and cumin. This green chile stew is thinner, tangier and focuses the flavors of the roasted chiles themselves. The tender pork adds a hearty sweetness and complimentary texture to the stew. It is a fantastic winter meal.
FGHD editor's aside/note/distraction: I spent my formative years in Kansas, and just so you know, there's no official state dish of Kansas either, but The Kansas Historical Society has a recipe for Mr. White's Famous Tossed Lettuce Salad, which legendary, storied newspaperman William Allen White – who was born and died in my hometown of Emporia – apparently prepared at the table "in a rite he stood up to perform." Now, no matter how much pomp and circumstance you're bringing, the tossing of a head of lettuce, a bowl of minced onion, vinegar, oil, salt and curry powder seems a bit unlikely for a state dish contender. State Dish of Kansas – Tossed Salad? No. I will defer to Joe from Oklahoma, and his pork ribs and fries on the Kansas state line side of Kansas City. Now, that's a state dish.