Chow down on Calabicitas with Red Serranos and slake your thirst with a Prickly Pear Margarita. Dave Dewitt brings together 145 recipes that exemplify the diversity, ingenuity, and unique flavors of New Mexican cuisine. In addition to revealing the secrets behind regional delights ranging from Chipotle Pumpkin Seed Pesto to Spicy Chocolate-Raspberry Muffins, Dewitt offers a glimpse into New Mexico’s vibrant food scene with engaging profiles of local food producers. Pass the Buffalo Green Chile Eggrolls!
About the Author
Dave DeWitt has written or coauthored more than thirty books on peppers and has edited two magazines on the subject. Chair of the board of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, DeWitt is an adjunct associate professor at New Mexico State University. His media company, Sunbelt Shows, Inc., produces the annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show.
Read an Excerpt
Chile Peppers: The Heart and Soul of the State
The Chile pepper is New Mexico's most iconic crop and cooking ingredient. When I moved to New Mexico in 1974, I started my writing career by specializing in the lore and cooking of chiles. In addition to producing many articles and books, I edited two magazines devoted to chiles, developed a trade show for the chile and fiery foods industry, and started a spicy product contest. This is probably why the media often refers to me as "The Pope of Peppers."
Though strongly identified with the American Southwest, chile peppers aren't native to the area, having arrived with the first Spanish explorers and settlers coming up from what is now Mexico. Most historians believe that Capitán General Juan de Oñate, who founded Santa Fe in 1598, introduced chile peppers into what is now the United States. Or it might have been the Antonio Espejo expedition of 1582–83, which brought chiles to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.
According to one of the members of the expedition, Baltasar Obregón, "They have no chile, but the natives were given some seed to plant." Chiles were among the crops raised by Indians, according to colonist Francisco de Valverde in 1601; he also complained that mice were a pest that ate chile pods off the plants in the field.
The cultivation of chile peppers exploded all over the region as the Spanish settled. It is likely that many different varieties were cultivated, including early forms of jalapeños, serranos, anchos, and pasillas. But one variety that adapted particularly well to New Mexico was a long green chile that turned red in the fall. Widely called 'Anaheim' because of its transfer to California around 1900, this variety was cultivated in New Mexico with such dedication that several land races developed.
These land races, called 'Chimayó' and 'Española', are varieties that adapted to particular environments and are still planted today in the same fields they were grown in centuries ago; they constitute a small but distinct part of the hundreds of tons of chile pods produced each year in New Mexico.
In 1846, William Emory, chief engineer of the Army's Topographic Unit, was surveying the New Mexico landscape and its customs. He described a meal eaten by people in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque: "Roast chicken, stuffed with onions; then mutton, boiled with onions; then followed various other dishes, all dressed with the everlasting onion; and the whole terminated by chile, the glory of New Mexico."
Emory went on to relate his experience with chiles: "Chile the Mexicans consider the chef-d'oeuvre of the cuisine, and seem really to revel in it; but the first mouthful brought the tears trickling down my cheeks, very much to the amusement of the spectators with their leather-lined throats."
Dave's Fresh Red Chile Sauce
About 3 cups
Heat Scale: Mild to medium
This method of making chile sauce differs from others using fresh New Mexican chiles because these chiles aren't roasted and peeled first. Because of the high sugar content of fresh red chiles, this sauce is sweeter than most. When I first made this sauce, I harvested some chiles from my garden one late summer day, made a batch, and ate every drop of it as a soup! It makes a tasty enchilada sauce, too. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days, or you can freeze it.
* ¼ cup vegetable oil
* 8 New Mexican red chiles, seeds and stems removed, chopped (or more, to taste)
* 1 large yellow onion, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves
* 4 cups water
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
* ½ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
* ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the chiles, onion, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the water, cilantro, oregano, and cumin, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered.
3. Purée the sauce in a blender or food processor in batches and return it to the saucepan. Cook until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency, usually just a few minutes. Salt to taste.
Sichler Chile Blend
Recipe from John Sichler, Sichler Farms
1 ½ to 2 cups, depending on the size of the chiles
Heat Scale: Varies, but usually hot
John Sichler came up with this chile blend by experimentation and the proportions change each time he makes it, so this recipe is an approximation. He carries a bag of the blend with him when he and his wife, Eleanor, visit their favorite restaurants. The owners welcome them and encourage him to add the blend to the meals they order because they know he will leave them what's left of the blend as a bonus tip — and a real treat. (See How to Roast Fresh New Mexican Chiles.) Store the blend in the refrigerator for up to five days; it freezes well.
* 3 yellow chiles
* 2 New Mexican green chiles
* 2 New Mexican red chiles
* 2 green or red jalapeños
* 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1. Heat a grill or stove burner to medium hot. Place the chiles and garlic in a grill basket and roast, shaking often to prevent burning, until all the chiles are blistered and slightly blackened, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Remove the basket from the heat and spread the chiles and garlic on a cutting board to cool.
3. When cool enough to handle, peel the chiles and remove the seeds and stems. Peel the garlic cloves. Coarsely chop the chiles and garlic together and use as you would any fresh green chile.
Fried Chile Salsa
Heat Scale: Medium
In northern Mexico, the chiles, tomatoes, and onions are grilled before making salsa cruda, so why not fry them instead? Frying the ingredients separately and flavoring them with cilantro keeps this from being a pasta sauce. Serve the salsa with chips or as a topping for grilled meat, poultry, or fish. The salsa will keep in the refrigerator for five days, but do not freeze it.
* ½ cup olive oil or more as needed
* 5 mild or 2 hot jalapeños, stems removed
* 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 6 medium tomatoes, chopped and drained
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
* ½ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or more to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot, and fry the jalapeños until their skins start to blister and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
2. While the jalapeños are cooling, add the onion and garlic to the oil and fry for 1 minute. Remove, drain on paper towels, and place in a bowl.
3. Add the tomatoes to the oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Remove, drain on paper towels, and add to the onions.
4. Peel the jalapeños, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Chop the jalapeños and add them to the onions and tomatoes. Stir in the cilantro, oregano, and red wine vinegar. Serve at room temperature.
Rio Grande Rainbow Salsa
3 to 4 cups
Heat Scale: Medium
Not only does this salsa display a riot of colors, it also provides an explosion of flavors. When finely minced, as they are in this recipe, fresh New Mexican green chiles do not need to be roasted and peeled. This salsa is delicious served over slices of smoked turkey breast or grilled fish. It also makes a great dip for corn chips. Store any leftover salsa in the refrigerator for up to five days, but don't freeze it.
* 2 red jalapeño chiles, seeds and stems removed, finely chopped
* 2 New Mexican green chiles, seeds and stems removed, minced
* 2 yellow wax hot chiles, seeds and stems removed, finely chopped
* 1 red onion, diced
* 2 medium tomatoes, diced
* 1 mango, peeled and pitted
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
* Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. Combine the chiles, onion, and tomatoes in a bowl.
2. Purée the mango with the oil and vinegar in a blender, then add it to the bowl. Mix well. Garnish with the cilantro before serving.
Chilaquiles en Salsa Chipotle (Tortillas with Chipotle Sauce)
Heat Scale: Mild
Chilaquiles (chee-lah-key-lays) is a term meaning "broken-up sombrero." This simple dish "recycles" day-old corn tortillas by breaking the sombrero (tortilla) in pieces and smothering them in a chile sauce. Simple, yes, but there are a vast number of variations. The sauce can be a basic red sauce, mole, pipián, green tomatillo, or, as presented here, a simple chipotle sauce. The toppings can vary also. This recipe calls for cheese, but you can add shredded chicken, cooked chorizo, or beans. Chilaquiles is a great breakfast dish, but is also good for brunch or a light supper. This dish does not refrigerate or freeze well because of the tortillas.
* 2 dried New Mexican red chiles
* 1 dried ancho chile
* 1 cup chopped white onion
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
* 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
* 3 medium tomatoes, roasted, peeled, and seeds removed, chopped
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
* 1 dozen stale corn tortillas, each cut into 6 triangles
* 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack cheese
* Sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. Place the dried chiles in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Steep for 15 minutes to soften. Drain the chiles and discard the water. Remove the stems and seeds.
2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and, when hot, add ½ cup of the onions and the garlic and sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Place the chiles, onion-garlic mixture, chipotle chiles, tomatoes, and oregano in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Strain the sauce to remove any small pieces of chiles.
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and, when hot, carefully add the sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Salt to taste.
5. Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch in a heavy skillet and heat to 350°F over medium-high heat. Fry the tortillas in batches until they are golden, about 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towels.
6. Place the remaining ½ cup onion in a strainer and run under cold water for 1 minute to remove any bitterness.
7. Add the tortillas to the sauce and quickly stir to coat; you do not want them to soften. Immediately spoon them with some sauce onto individual plates, and top with onions and cheese. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro and serve.
Pepino y Chile Popsicles (Cucumber and Chile Pepper Popsicles)
Recipe from Amy White, Edible Santa Fe
8 (2-ounce) popsicles
Heat Scale: Medium
Amy, a recipe developer for Edible Santa Fe, writes, "There's nothing quite like the real-fruit paletas that Mexican popsicle vendors sell from little pushcarts and from South Valley paleterias, and a supreme flavor is pepino y chile. Add a little extra lime and sugar to give these a bit more zing. The best thing about making your own popsicles is that you can adjust the flavor to your liking, or come up with your own flavor combinations. You can buy popsicle molds online or at specialty kitchen stores."
* 3 cups chopped peeled cucumbers
* ½ cup sugar
* Juice of 1 lime
* 1–2 teaspoons red chile powder
Purée the cucumbers, sugar, lime juice, and chile powder in a blender or food processor. Pour the mixture into eight popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. For aesthetic flare, put one or two thin slices of cucumber on the sides of the mold before you pour in the blended ingredients.
Spicy Stuffed Ancho Chiles with Two Sauces
Heat Scale: Medium
Ancho chiles are dried red poblanos with a wonderful raisiny flavor. They are available in supermarkets in many parts of the country or by mail order. Don't let the many steps in this recipe intimidate you; it is relatively easy to prepare and can all be prepped in advance, then quickly assembled to serve. These do not freeze well, but you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days.
* 6 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
* 4 carrots, peeled and diced
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 4 cups vegetable stock
* 1 tablespoon lime juice
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* ¾ cup sour cream
* 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
* 1 tablespoon vegetable stock
* 6 large dried ancho chiles
* 1 cup cooked black beans or pinto beans
* ½ cup grated Manchego cheese
* ½ cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
* ¼ cup chopped scallions
* ¼ cup minced roasted and peeled New Mexican green chiles
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tablespoons New Mexican red chile powder
* ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
1. Make the tomato-carrot sauce: Sauté the tomatoes and carrots in the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and lime juice, bring to a boil, and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Lower the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Make the chipotle sauce: Mix the sour cream with the chipotle chile and the stock in a bowl. Salt to taste.
3. Make the stuffed chiles: Preheat the oven to 200°F. Soak the ancho chiles in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain them, pat them dry with paper towels, and make a lengthwise slit into each chile. Remove the seeds and the membrane.
4. Combine the beans, cheese, tomatoes, scallions, green chiles, garlic, chile powder, pepper, and lime juice in a bowl. Divide the mixture and stuff it into the ancho chiles. Warm them in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. To assemble the dish, pour a portion of the tomato-carrot sauce onto a small plate, top with a stuffed ancho chile, and drizzle the chipotle sauce over the top. Repeat with the remaining chiles. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Grilled Green Chile Polenta with Roasted Salsa Verde
4 to 6 servings
Heat Scale: Medium
Here's a grill concept that needs no meat itself but is a great accompaniment to grilled beef, pork, or chicken. We give Italians credit for inventing polenta, but it's really just corn gruel, a dish that goes back to the Maya civilization. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to five days but do not freeze.
GRILLED GREEN CHILE POLENTA
* 1 ½ cups milk
* ¾ cup coarse yellow cornmeal
* ½ cup grated cheddar or Asiago cheese
* ¼ cup roasted, peeled, and chopped New Mexican green chiles
* 2 tablespoons coarsely grated yellow onion
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* Olive oil
ROASTED SALSA VERDE
* 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks left on
* 1 small yellow onion, quartered
* 2 New Mexican green chiles, pierced once with a knife tip
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Make the polenta: Bring the milk and 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the liquid, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to stir until the mixture is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. This can take up to 10 minutes. Quickly add the cheese, chiles, onion, and garlic. Stir well, salt to taste, and remove from the heat.
2. Lightly coat a 10-inch cake or pie pan with oil and pour the polenta into it. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours to firm.
3. Make the salsa: Combine the tomatillos, onion, and chiles in a basket on the grill over medium flames and roast until the vegetables are slightly blackened, shaking the basket often. Remove the tomatillos, onion, and chiles from the basket and peel, but don't worry about removing all the peels from the chiles. Do remove the stems and seeds.
4. Combine the vegetables, sugar, and lime juice in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro.
5. Clean the grill and brush it with more oil. Slice the polenta into wedges or squares, brush with the oil, and grill over a medium fire until they begin to brown, 8 to 12 minutes.
6. Place the polenta on a serving platter, top with the salsa, and serve.
Excerpted from "Dishing Up New Mexico"
Copyright © 2014 Dave DeWitt.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsForeword by Vicki Pozzebon
1 Chile Peppers: The Heart and Soul of the State
2 Farm-to-Table Seasonal Delights
3 Enchanting Cheeses
4 Exceptional Meats
5 Using Local Specialty Products
6 Brilliant Beverages
7 Nuts, Fruits, and Extraordinary Desserts
Southwestern Cooking Terms and Ingredients
New Mexico Food and Beverage Events
New Mexico Farmers' Markets
Recipe Contributors and Suppliers
Recipes by Category
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'll let you in on a secret. Hot peppers and I do NOT get along. I've never been one to like my taste buds burnt off (I like to TASTE my food, and if my mouth is on fire, I'm not tasting anything!), but I had no problem using small amounts of hot peppers occasionally. I decided to make some stuffed pepper with Anaheim peppers (these are NOT considered hot peppers!) and spent the next 6-8 hours in agony with my hands on fire from cleaning and de-seeding them! That was a couple of years ago, so I'm just now getting to the point of being willing to work with peppers again--albeit with gloves, this time!--so I was thrilled at the opportunity to review this book. I'm still a little gun (or pepper) shy, so I haven't got into making my own chili sauce's yet, but I'm getting there! Starting small with Grilled Green Chile Polenta, can I just say YUM! On a nice, cold day nothing beats a great bowl of soup, so I decided to make the Creamy Green Chile-Chicken Soup for supper. While I was making it, I started to have my doubts. There was no seasoning other than the green chiles, a LITTLE salt, white pepper and oregano. (Note: I was not ready to dive into roasting and chopping my own chilies like the recipe called for, so I used a large can of diced green chiles in its place.) Ah, you should not doubt this gem of a recipe. It was AMAZING!! My oldest daughter’s first comment was, “You didn’t make enough of this!” Now, this does have a little spice to it if you’re not into spicy foods, but it is so worth it! I didn’t even offer it to my youngest as she is unable to deal with ANY spiciness, and it my 12 year old daughter didn’t finish hers as she said it was too spicy, but the rest of us loved it! This is a great cookbook with some amazing recipes in it. You should give it a try! I received a copy of this book from Storey Publishing for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.