Troy Garza’s Chicken Breast/White Potato Chili Verde

Troy Garza ChiliHigh school was fun for me (that’s rare, right?). I had enough friends to keep me on the verge of trouble; for the most part, though, we skied, worked teenaged jobs, chased boys. Ours was a class of around 800, a big enough crowd to enable a mediocre student like me to hide from smart, with-it kids like Troy Garza. If he ever spoke a word to me, I probably ran. That kid was simply a force of nature. While I was a head taller than Troy, he was light years ahead of me. Troy was Going Places. Now as middle aged adults, I am STOKED that we’re Facebook friends. He’s a voracious cook! I picked up his recipe for Chicken Breast/White Potato Chili Verde (Larry had seconds, said he wished I had made more). Once I cooked this, I asked Troy to clarify some things for me. Yup, he certainly did go places…

Patti: Troy, were you REALLY a choreographer for A Chorus Line, or is that a myth?

Troy: I was in the original London Cast of A Chorus Line which opened in 1976. After the tour, I became Dance Captain (the person who maintains the choreography and holds all company rehearsals and auditions) for the Broadway company in 1977. After the show closed in 1990 I directed a lot of subsequent productions including the one at Long Beach CLO in 1995. Last one I did was in Munich in 2002.

clip_image001_thumbP: I just recently saw your credit on the SNL Patrick Swayze/Chris Farley Chippendales dance skit — you do these often, always, never?

T: I was the house choreographer at SNL from 1990 to 1999 and did about 50 episodes, appearing as a dancer or extra in several of them. I appear on the Swayze episode in the “Dirty Square Dancing” sketch partnering Jan Hooks before Patrick enters. Also choreographed and danced in the big Candice Bergen “I’m Hosting” production-number along with fellow chorus boys Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey. Must admit it was a fun gig. I’m retired from choreographing now.

P: Where/how did you learn to cook so well?

T: I was always able to cook; genetic predisposition? We were a family-cooking family. My mom started working when I was a fourth-grader, and I remember doing most of my own food prep from then on. Throughout the years I always cooked for myself and my friends, and studied and learned about spices and techniques. Did a little catering. After retiring from showbiz I took some classes at a fancy local restaurant and ended up as a cook and instructor there and producer for a few TV segments they did (Roker on the Road, etc.). After I left in 2005 I hired my Cordon-Bleu trained colleague Rebecca Reilly to coach me in technique for 100 hours in my own kitchen.  Now I cook for myself and my long-time partner Guy, and for the occasional visitors we get up here. I like to practice and eat the results.

P: The tattoos… any food-related?

T: No food-related tattoos, at least not yet. My big back piece is a tribute to my two dogs Puma and Pelee, both now deceased. I started in in 2007 and it has yet to be completed.

(*note to my readers, my first Facebook contact with Troy was due to his pug dog photo. Our pugs Zoe and Sake are now deceased, too.)

Chicken Breast/White Potato Chili Verde by Troy Garza

(His instructions were very chef-like and in paragraph form so the following is my reworking. I didn’t peel my potatoes.)

  • 4 poblanos
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 8 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 8 tomatillos
  • 6 scallion bottoms (white part)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced

On a cookie sheet, roast the poblanos, onions, garlic, tomatillos and scallions in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes or until soft.  Remove core and skin from poblanos; squeeze out the garlic cloves.  Put all roasted vegetables along with cilantro and scallion tops (greens) into a food processor and puree until smooth.

In a large dutch oven, brown the chicken cubes in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken broth and vegetable puree, bring to a simmer and cook for half an hour, covered halfway with the lid.  Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve garnished with Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro.  Makes four servings.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk November 19, 2010 at 7:59 am

Erika, that’s how the guy gets the girl — the ability to cook a fine chili bianco. YEA

2 Erika - In Erika's Kitchen November 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Michael makes a similar chili bianco – when he lived in Boston he used to use pickled green tomatoes, but those are hard (impossible) to find in southern California, so now he uses tomatillos. It’s one of my favorites. In fact, he made it for me on our first date, 18 years ago.

3 Worth The Whisk October 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

Thanks Troy for clearing up my translation of your instructions. Hope to use a lot more of your recipes, your FB posts are inspiring.

4 Troy Garza October 30, 2010 at 8:32 am

Patti – Big thanks to you and all your readers for the good reviews and recommendations. To be clear, the white scallion bottoms are roasted, and the green tops are reserved and sliced to be used raw in the puree. And like Patti said, the papery cover on the tomatillos should be pulled off if it hasn’t fallen off already, and I like to give them a good scrub to remove the stickiness on the surface. They nearly dissolve in the roasting since they are mostly water, and their actual skin is so minimal it’s barely there at all. (I read once that they’re related to gooseberries.) Like Dorothy said you can roast hotter and longer to achieve some good flavor from the char. Don’t forget to deglaze the roasting pan and use all the flavor left there too! Oh, and if you want some heat in this dish you can throw in a jalapeno or two with the roasting vegetables. – TG

5 Tar Heel Fan October 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Thank you, Patti! That helps muchly.


6 Worth The Whisk October 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for your question, I added that info to the recipe. And thankfully, everything gets pureed together anyway!

7 Tar Heel Fan October 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I’m confused about the scallions — one part of the recipe calls for the “tops” and one part calls for the “bottoms;” which part is correct? (IOW, the white or green parts?)


8 sippitysup October 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

Totally cool! I am learning so much about you. You glamorous thing you! Broadway was my true calling (except I am talentless in that regard). GREG

9 Worth The Whisk October 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Kath – you take off that papery peel, but I roasted them with their skins on. Pulverized everything anyway!

10 Kath October 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

That looks unbelievably good! I’ve never used tomatillos. Do you remove the skin from them after roasting?

11 Dorothy at October 22, 2010 at 5:47 am

I’m back to tell you I made this last night and it is COMPLETELY DELISH! That is a great technique to roast the veggies first (mine took 20 minutes at 400 degrees to get a little char), and then whirl them in the processor. I used thigh meat instead of breast meat (preference), one of my onions was a red one, and lots of cilantro. It’s ALL good! My kids and husband gobbled this up, and I will make it again very soon. How about tonight? Seriously, we are upset there are not leftovers. It serves exactly 4. I might try it as a vegetarian dish next time…what about garbanzos, or cannelini, or lentils instead of chicken? Just musing… Patti, thank you for extracting this recipe from your friend and publishing it, and Troy, you rock!

12 Worth The Whisk October 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Dorothy, pretty tame. And very yum.

13 Dorothy at October 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

This looks deelish! Enjoyed your story!

How would you evaluate this on the hot scale? Was it pretty spicy, or pretty tame, or what?

14 Worth The Whisk October 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Sherie – who woulda thot? TROY GARZA.

15 Sherie Dechter October 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Love this Patti. The interview and the recipe.

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