MY FAVORITE THINGS: Christmas almost here. Snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Both my kids home for the holidays. And now, just because I know it’s their favorite meal and will last us well into the New Year, there’s gypsy stew on the stove.
Back in the late 80’s, when I first found my way home to New Mexico from a short stint in Amarillo, my pal Patti Williams bought me a Pink Adobe cookbook. The Pink Adobe is a Santa Fe restaurant opened in 1944 by Rosalea Murphy in the Barrio de Analco, across from the San Miguel mission (the oldest church in the world). It’s an institution and the food is delicious.
Patti turned down the corners of the pages with her favorite dishes, and she marked the gypsy stew page twice. So I figured I’d give it a shot.
It was such a huge success, and made such a crazy amount of food that it became my signature dish. Especially on an October day after buying green chile in Corrales, my favorite thing to do would be to call 30 of my closest friend, leave a message that the gypsy stew was on, and wait for them to arrive with the Dos Equis and Tecate. Once my friend Bruce came straight from the emergency room where he was having his arm set. He was a little groggy from the drugs, but he said there was no way he was missing the gypsy stew. (wow – I had forgotten all about that evening until I started writing today- that’s a whole ‘nother post – all those nights in the backyard around the picnic table with a fire in the firepit. . .).
So this morning, three days before Christmas, the gypsy stew is on. I’ll let it simmer all day (not necessary, but the smell of all that garlic and chile. . .!). And then tonight my kids and Dave and I and some pile of friends and family will gather round and wait for the snow and we’ll enjoy. Here’s my version of the recipe – it’s not exactly like the Pink’s (she takes out the garlic before it’s served – sacrilege), but I’ve adapted it over the years to make it my own.
And if you ever get the chance to have dinner at the Pink Adobe in Santa Fe, do it! It’s a little pricy, but the food and atmosphere are well worth it.
My Gypsy Stew:
Ingredients: 8 skinless boneless chicken breasts, 750 ml bottle dry sherry, 8 onions chopped, 14 cloves of garlic chopped, 2 large cans diced tomatoes, 4 cups of fresh green chile, chicken broth to cover the cooking chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Monterey jack cheese – cubed
The chicken, sherry, onions, garlic and enough broth to cover that concoction go into the largest stockpot you own. Heat on medium long enough for the chicken to be completely cooked (about an hour). While the chicken is stewing, combine your tomaties and chile in a large bowl to “allow their flavors to mingle.” Those are Rosalea Murphy’s instructions from the cookbook. Evidently it works, cuz when I don’t do it, it’s not as tasty.
Once the chicken has cooked, removed the stew from the heat, cut up your chicken pieces and return to the pot, stir in the tomatoes and chile and return to the heat to cook over medium for another half hour minimum. The longer it stays on the stove, the tastier it gets. It’s even better on the second day.
For those of you poor souls living somewhere where there’s no fresh green chile, you can cheat by using four or five cans of Rotel – I used the hot when I was living in North Carolina. If that’s too spicy for you, use a couple of cans of hot and three cans of regular. The taste will be fine, but when you come to New Mexico to visit, be sure to load up on the good stuff.
This an amazingly delicious green chile stew, and surprisingly healthy. Low carbs (we ate a ton of it during the Atkins days), fresh ingredients, and the recipe makes enough for Cox’s army.
Final Step – Very Important. Before you serve it, cube some Monterey Jack cheese and place a handful in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the stew over the cheese and serve with flour and corn tortillas.
ENJOY! And Merry Christmas!