Pam's chicken chile stew

Twenty Words During Lockdown, Day 4: Recipe

By Pam Houston

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These 20 words were assigned to Pam Houston by her friend, the writer and photographer Kyle Wolff, as part of Project 2020 (Quarantine Edition). She gave Pam and others a word most mornings, and the assignment to write to that world and either take or find a photo to go with it. These 20 words and photographs by Pam Houston are appearing daily in through June 20, the summer solstice.

March 27, 2020


Green chili chicken stew, good for Covid and whatever else ails you:

One whole bud of garlic, diced

One large sweet onion, chopped

One leek, sliced

Two turnips, peeled and chunked

Two parsnips, peeled and chunked

Ten chopped chilies, Hatch or Pueblo, if you can get them

One heart of celery, sliced, including all the leaves

Four carrots, sliced into rounds

One tablespoon fresh turmeric, diced fine

One tablespoon fresh ginger, diced fine

A handful of fresh parsley

A handful of fresh thyme

(If the food chain breaks dried herbs will do)

One tablespoon ground cumin

A few new potatoes, chunked

Two cups of corn, roasted or frozen

Eight skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

A Fresno pepper, or in this case a wayward serrano pepper or any other thing you need to use up in that category.

(If you are out of potatoes, a can of great white northern beans subs well)

Sauté the onions, garlic, and chilies in olive oil, then add all the veggies and enough water to cover them, then add the chicken and cook the whole thing on a slow boil for an hour or so. Debone the chicken when the meat falls off the bone, cook a bit more. Serve with chunks of avocado and fresh cilantro on top. Leave a Tupperware full on your aging neighbor’s patio with a face-out note saying you wiped it down with Clorox. Wipe it down with Clorox. Knock that virus on its ass.

Pam's chicken chile stew



Pam HoustonPam Houston is the author of the memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Reading the West Advocacy Award, as well as five other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book co-written with activist Amy Irvine, Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place, is forthcoming from Torrey House Press in October 2020.
Read Pam Houston’s Letter to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by and Trinity University Press and view a video of Pam reading her Letter to America as part of a Dear America town hall.

Photos courtesy Pam Houston. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.