The Kitchen

    We have always loved Mexican food, but when we moved to New Mexico, we discovered an entirely new culinary world!  When we heard the the "state question" is, "Red or Green?" as in chile, we knew we were in for a treat.  This is a state that takes their food seriously!

Lets make one thing clear first.  The little peppers you see above are "CHILES", not "chilis".  Chili is a Texas (or Cincinnati) dish made with ground beef, spices, tomatoes, and sometimes beans.  Chiles are hot peppers, the New Mexico variety is grown down near Hatch, New Mexico.  Just so you know...

Anyway, Northern New Mexican cuisine is spicy, doesn't use a lot of cheese, and is downright delicious!  I will post a Recipe of the Month here so you can get a taste of what I mean.

Recipe of the Month

Chipotle* and Tomatillo** Salsa

(From "Mexican Light" by Martha Rose Shulman)

2 Dried chipotle chiles, seeded and toasted¤

1/2 pound (about 4 large) tomatillos, husked and roasted§, or one 13-oz. can, drained

2 medium garlic cloves, toasted¥

1/2 cup water as needed

Salt to taste

    Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Weight with a plate to keep the peppers submerged and soak for 30 minutes.

    Transfer the tomatillos to a blender along with any juice that has accumulated in the bowl.  Drain the chipotles, rinse briefly, and add to the blender along with the toasted garlic.  Blend the mixture until fairly smooth, leaving a bit of texture.  Transfer to a bowl and thin out as desired with water.  Season to taste with salt.

This will keep in the fridge for a few days, but will get spicier over time.

*Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeños.  They provide a hot, smoky flavor to the foods they are used to season.  Our favorite!  If you can't find chipotles in your area, email us and we'll send some to you.  Seriously, they are not to be missed.

**These are not small tomatoes.  They are more closely related to the gooseberry!  They look like small green tomatoes wrapped in a papery husk.

¤ To toast chiles: Heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles on both sides, pressing them down with a metal spatula and turning them over as soon as they sizzle and blister, in a matter of seconds.  Remove from heat at once and transfer to a bowl or plate.

§ To roast tomatillos: Preheat the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place the tomatillos on it.  Place under the broiler, about 2 to 3 inches from the heat (highest rack setting).  Turn after 2 or 3 minutes, when the tomatillos have charred on one side (this may take longer in an electric oven), and repeat on the other side.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.  When the tomatillos are cool enough to handle, peel.

¥ To toast garlic: Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat and toast the garlic in its skin, turning or shaking the pan often, until it smells toasty and is blackened in several places, about 10 minutes.  It will get soft.  Remove from heat and peel.




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