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  • Writer's picturehlhowells

Colorado (Primal!) Green Chili -- Here's to Fall

When I first moved to Colorado, nearly ten years ago, I did so intentionally. My husband and I were both finishing graduate school at the same time, and we’d been wisely told to not duke it out over whose career was more important – instead, we should choose a place we wanted to live, and go for that place come hell or high water. So, we did. Our conversation went something like this:

· Me: “I need the mountains.”

· Him: “I need to work in a city.”

· Me: “I loved living in Arizona – let’s go there.”

· Him: “I am NEVER living in a place with tarantulas.”

· Me: “Montana’s too cold.”

· . . . Both: “So, it’s Denver.”

And here we are nearly ten years later and loving it. There are a few silly stereotypes about people in Colorado that tend to be true. Some of them we have embraced: my brother and sister-in-law always point out when I am wearing the Colorado “uniform” of blue jeans, snow boots, a long-sleeve T-shirt, and a puffy vest. Some of them we have not: Colorado is the place you can reliably find a $5000 mountain bike on top of a $500 Subaru – we have yet to acquire either of those items. But, hands-down, one Colorado tradition worth exploring is that we sure love Green Chili here.

This is DIFFERENT than New Mexico chili, though it does rely heavily on the roasted green chiles that are imported, fresh, from Hatch, New Mexico, and roasted in pop-up stands all throughout the streets of Denver each fall. Yummmmmmm. And, unlike other chilis, it does NOT contain beans (though it is often served OVER beans and rice, and topped with shredded cheese) – it contains diced pork. It is to-die-for.

In making my transition to a Primal/Paleo lifestyle, it took me awhile to come around to embracing a whole new set of comfort foods. I rely on these comfort foods for, well . . . comfort. I love the way the passing of seasons marks the passage of time; I look at this as a way to celebrate life, love one another, and create lasting memories. Recipes are traditions. And my family needed a traditional, Primal/Paleo-aligned green chili for our existence in Colorado. So I started with a traditional green chili recipe from Andrea, our magical daycare provider who is a Colorado Native and can cook like nobody’s business – and I have been making a batch every week since August, playing with different soup thickeners, to Primalize this recipe so it will have none of the corn starch or flour usually used as thickeners in traditional soups and stews. In the last week of October, I think I've finally got it dialed in. Here it is!

Colorado Primal Green Chili

Serves: 8

Makes: 12 cups – (8 servings of 1.5 cups each)

Each 1.5 cup serving contains:

· 246 kcal

· 22.6 g protein

· 20.4 g carbs

· 12.1 g fat


· 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

· 1 lb pork loin diced into tiny ¼” cubes (you can use MORE to taste!)

· 3 tbsp minced garlic

· 1 red onion, diced finely

· 4 tbsp arrowroot powder, divided into 2 portions of 2 tbsp each

· 28 oz fire-roasted New Mexico chiles, diced or shredded in food processor (the roadside ones ROCK, but the canned ones will do)

· 2-3 jalapenos, diced finely (you can use MORE to taste!)

· 2 tbsp cumin

· 2 tsp salt, plus additional to sprinkle on pork

· Black pepper to taste

· 14.5 oz of fire-roasted canned, diced tomatoes (or 2 lg fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced)

· 32 oz chicken broth

Optional garnishes:

· Cauliflower Rice

· Shredded Mexican cheese

· Fresh cilantro


1) Pan-fry diced pork with olive oil until pink is gone; sprinkle generously with salt while cooking; add to slow-cooker (can also complete recipe on stove, using dutch oven or large soup pot with tight-fitting lid)

2) Saute onion and garlic in juices that remain in pan, for about 3 minutes, add to crock pot

3) Turn slow-cooker on high

4) In bowl, mix 2 tbsp arrowroot powder with just enough chicken broth to fully dissolve the powder – add this to the crock pot and stir into the mix before it settles out again (quickly!)

5) Add chiles, spices, jalapenos, and chicken broth to slow-cooker

6) Bring to a boil in the slow-cooker, then turn down to LOW

7) Add tomatoes

8) Simmer on low heat, covered, at least one hour – this will make your whole house smell WONDERFUL

9) Just prior to serving, turn heat off. Mix final 2 tbsp of arrowroot powder with just enough water to fully dissolve the powder, then mix quickly into the chili before it starts to settle out again.

10) Adjust spices as needed, to taste: hot sauce, salt, pepper

11) Serve, piping hot, over meal of your choice.

I want my house to smell like this EVERY weekend.

As mentioned above, the traditional way to have Colorado Green Chili is served in a bowl over rice and beans, and topped with shredded cheese. However, we Primal/Paleo folks might omit the beans, and serve it over cauliflower rice. Or, since I long ago decided that cauliflower rice was TOO MUCH WORK, I often eat this, steaming, in a bowl all by itself.

But the longer you live in Colorado, the more things you start to top with green chili! You’ll find it oozing over enchiladas, smothering all the burritos, and steaming in a cup on the side of MANY dishes. It's EVERYWHERE.

For the Primal/Paleo folks among us, here are two of my favorite ways to make this a meal:

FOR BREAKFAST: sauté a handful of spinach in olive oil. Scramble two eggs to put on top of the spinach, and top the whole shebang with a half-serving of green chili. Coffee on the side, please. (The coffee should be mixed with coconut milk and sprinkled with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, for a primal-friendly pumpkin spiced drink!)

Wake up right! The Colorado way . . .

FOR DINNER: I like to grill out, making beef sliders, and topping them each with a half-slice of pepper jack cheese, ¼ serving of green chili, shredded cheese, and cilantro. Serve with carrot chips to dip in guacamole! For dessert: fry a couple of diced apples in ghee, along with some raisins, walnuts, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and salt. Then lay by your back yard fire pit and moan.

So many ways to make green chili a meal!

Then, just have a bowl for lunch with your salad, and you can have Colorado Green Chili three meals a day! Happy fall, y'all!

(Note: Please feel free to send feedback, or additional suggestions for Primal soup thickeners! I experimented with many gross slimy messes using guar gum and xantham gum, and quite a few failed experiments with arrowroot powder, before I finally settled on this. But let me know what you have found successful! I’m always wanting to learn new ways!)


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