New Mexico

Plucked from: The Best from New Mexican Kitchens (Shiela Cameron)

Prepping Chilis

Let’s start with the basics of New Mexican local food: What do you do with a pile of chiles, Sandia red or Big Jim green? First put on some kitchen gloves or disposables. Slit them lengthwise and remove the seeds and veins. Arrange on a cookie sheet and place under a broiler or on the grill or smoker. Turn frequently to avoid burning. You want blisters on both sides. When you have them uniformly blistered, remove from heat and cover with a wet towel 10-15 min. Then peel them from stem to flower ends. They are ready to use in recipes below or can be frozen for a future date.

Fresh Green Chili Sauce

1/4 cup avocado or olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 cup mince onion (optional), 1 Tbs flour, 1 cup water, 1 cup diced green chilis, salt to taste. Let’s Do It: Saute the first three ingredients, add flour to absorb the oil, as if making gravy, then the water – cooking til smooth. Add chilis and cook down. Salt to taste. You can tame this sauce by adding tomatoes.

This is the classic sauce topping for Huevos Rancheros (coming up) and many New Mexican main dishes. It freezes well.

Red Chili Powder

Before Red Chili sauce, we need to make the Sandia chili powder. That starts with dried peppers, gloves for sure and, for me, and a mask. You can hang and dry them naturally (making your own Ristra) then crack open and deseed for the powder. Or you can split and deseed them then put them on a dryer. Either way, the dry chilis can be busted up and ground in an electric coffee grinder to arrive at red chili powder.

The seeds from the Sandia chili can be saved and given a wee spin in the grinder to create your own pepper flakes (the seeds are much hotter than the flesh in peppers). BTW, above Sandia (5) on the Nakahama heat scale is Cayenne (6) and atop that is Jalapeño (7). Green chiles are a modest 3 and Anaheim a mild 1.

Red Chili Sauce

Let’s Do It: 3 Tbs oil or lard, 1 clove garlic, 2 Tbs flour, 1/2 cup Sandia red chili powder or comparable, 2 cups water and salt to taste made exactly as the green chili sauce above. This is a hot chili sauce used on Huevos Rancheros if desired, and in other recipes where you want more kick.

Huevos Rancheros

Let’s Do It: Poach eggs in either green or red chili sauce, over low heat and without breaking yolks. remove from heat when cooked to liking.Serve topped with sauce and shredded cheese. Nice also to accompany with Frijoles, next, or rice or sitting on a tortilla.


3 cups pinto beans, 4 quarts water, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup diced salt pork, and salt. Let’s Do It: Wash beans thoroughly, then soak overnight covered. Next day put beans, water, garlic and salt pork – but not salt – in a large heavy kettle. Cover tightly, bring to a boil and cook until beans are tender but not mushy, about 1.5 hours. Add water if needed during cooking. When done uncover, turn up heat and cook excess water until absorbed. Salt to taste.

For Frijoles Refritos mash leftovers and cook in bacon fat until hot. Sprinkle with grated cheddar for tacos or burritos. In Costa Rica, they use Black Beans! Serve with rice.

Spanish Rice

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 onion, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1 clove garlic, 1 – 14oz can of stewed tomatoes or your own, 1 tsp chili powder, dash of Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, salt & pepper to taste.

Let’s Do It: Chop onion and pepper and mince the garlic. Saute them in olive oil until onions are. transparent. Mix in remaining ingredients. Bring toa boil and simmer, tightly covered, on lowest heat for about 20 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Chili Rellenos

What you need for 4 people: 8 Big Jim Green chilis or 8 Poblano Peppers (both are mild and choose them as straight as possible), 1 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese, 2 eggs beaten, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, cooking oil.

Let’s Do It: Wash and dry the chiles, cut the top off to prevent bursting when roasting. Roast and pell them as in our chili sauce recipe. After splitting and de-seeding, fill each chili with cheese chunks. roll in a mixture of the flour and salt. Dip in the beaten egg and fry in moderately hot oil until golden brown. Great with refried beans and Spanish rice (both above).

Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas

Serves 6: 12 Corn tortillas, 4 cups green chili sauce, 3 cups minced chicken, 1# Monterey Jack Cheese shredded, 1/4 cup minced onion, salt to taste. 1 pint sour cream.

Let’s Do It: Have warm tortillas. Mix 1 cup green chili sauce with the chicken. Put 1/4 chicken mixture on each tortilla and roll up. Place in oblong baking dish and cover with grated cheese. Add the onion if desired and pour over the remaining chili sauce salted to taste. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, smother with sour cream and return to oven for 10 minutes until all is hot. Serve immediately.


For 4. A really popular veg dish in New Mexico. 2tbs oil or lard, 1 clove garlic, 1 medium onion, 4 medium large zucchini, 12 oz sweet corn, 2 fresh peeled green chilis, salt to taste and grated cheddar, jack or longhorn.

Let’s Do It: In Heavy skillet, saute the onion, garlic and zucchini in oil. Discard garlic when squash is cooked tender. Mix in the corn, diced chilis, and salt. Cover and heat through. Mix in cheese and serve.

Bill’s Guacamole

6-8 ripe but not over-ripe avocados, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions, 1 large diced tomato, 1/2 cup chopped green chilis, 2-3 minced jalapeños, 1 clove minced garlic, dash of cumin powder, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt to taste.

Let’s Do It: Peel and pit the avocados. Mash with fork leaving bits of whole avocado. Stir in remaining ingredients. serve on lettuce or with dipping tostados.