(PUEBLO, Colo.) — We are Southern Colorado, and we’ve told you about the history of the great Pueblo Green Chile pepper, but Pueblo natives and newcomers have been perfecting the sauce, the gravy, the soup — whatever you call it, green chili is a Steel City staple that’s rich in history and flavor.
It’s served on the side like soup, a heaping dip on a warm tortilla, or smothering your Slopper.
Daniel Roybal said, “Oh, you can make with tortilla and cheese. Make a quesadilla. You can make it in a sandwich.”
Green chili is what makes the Steel City so saucy.
“I eat it every day with eggs. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, everything filled with chili every day in our family,” said Roybal.
Roybal knows a thing or two about perfecting Pueblo’s primary, peppery provision.
“I use the best tenderloin pork and I dice it, and I season it with olive oil. I put olive oil in a skillet, and I brown it. Then I put it in a crock pot with 32 ounces of chicken broth, and I put it in the crock pot for 4 hours.”
Roybal has green chili is in his blood.
“I’ve been making green chili most of my life. I learned from my mom and my grandmother, so I’d say probably a good 32 years or longer. The first time I tried green chili, I was probably 11 years old, and I took a bite of it. It was so hot; I almost spit it out. But then after a while, I got used to it. I guess my taste buds got used to the green chili,” said Roybal.
Year after year, he’s tweaked his recipe.
“Then I put my garlic, about four cloves garlic and I’ll bring that to a boil. A quarter teaspoon of chicken soup, tomato, chicken broth, about a quarter teaspoon. Don’t put too much,” Roybal said.
He uses produce grown right in his garden.
“They’re peeled, roasted, peeled, diced, about ten diced Pueblo Green Chiles right out of my garden. I have those in there, then we start out in the flour. We have got to make sure it’s really boiling to put the flour, and I use probably five tablespoons of flour with cold water, and I put it in the blender until it’s very smooth,” said Roybal.
He says only Pueblo’s prized peppers pack enough punch.
“When it grows, it grows up. It doesn’t grow down like a New Mexico chili grows down, Pueblo Chile grows up to the heavens, to the sky,” Roybal said.
For Roybal, the Superbowl of chilis is in September.
“It’s got to be really tender to win the contest for the Chile and Frijoles Festival. I’ve done it for years and years, and I know what I need to do to win,” said Roybal.
For the past 26 years, he has competed in the annual Pueblo Chili Cookoff, where the competition is hot.
Roybal said, “I have a great feeling, especially when I know it’s going to be prize winning every year. I said, ‘This is the year I’m going to take first place’. Then I don’t and take a second or third. I always want first place. I never settle for a second or third. I get so disappointed that it’s like the Broncos losing.”
Which is why he is the reigning 2022 Green Chili Champion.
“I think I’ve won about five in the green chile first place, and five in the red,” said Roybal.
And with every win, his legacy just gets hotter.