Here’s my debut smoked chicken in the pellet smoker. I’ve roasted chicken in the oven or charcoal grill but never like this. The chicken cooks so evenly and gives the skin a crisp texture that tastes so good. I made a spice rub mixed with red chile, spices and lime olive oil to make a paste that I rubbed all over this bird. I also loosened the outer skin around the breast, legs and thighs, then rubbed the paste between the meat and skin. I learned this trick from Chef Paul Prudhomme. Adding the spice rub under the skin absorbs into the meat as it cooks, adding flavor. We made some fajitas with chicken, roasted veggies, salsa and guacamole. I could tell you how much we enjoyed this meal, however I think the pictures will describe the deliciousness better than my words. At least I hope so!
Have you ever had the Kung Pao Chicken at Panda Express? I’ve been searching for the perfect copycat recipe for years and finally found “the one”. It comes from Jamie at Drive Me Hungry. Seriously this recipe is as close as you’re going to get to the Kung Pao Chicken at Panda Express. I would even go so far as to say it’s better. I couldn’t wait to hunt down all the ingredients and get started. Joe has never ordered Kung Pao when we go to Panda because it has zucchini in it. But he ate every bite and said that the sauce even made zucchini taste good. I think I may add some different vegetables next time to get added veggies into our diet. There are a lot of ingredients in the sauce with some that were new to me such as Chinese black vinegar and Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp. Every time I try a new Asian dish I learn something new. This version of Kung Pao is a very aromatic dish as well as pleasing to the eye. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
If you’ve ever had a Frito pie, most likely it’s been served in a bag or a bowl of Fritos corn chips smothered in red chile, seasoned ground beef and beans, topped with grated cheese and onion. It’s one of our tastiest guilty pleasures and when the Fritos go on sale it’s time to make Frito pies. I often wondered how it would taste with green chile and decided to give it a try. I went to the freezer for a jar of green chile sauce and found that I had used the last jar and there was none to be found. Not to worry, I always have a backup in the pantry. A jar of 505 Flame Roasted Green Chile is my go to sauce when I don’t have homemade. I used to find in it Kansas and apparently it’s marketed in many Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco’s around the country so even if you don’t live in NM you may be able to find it in your area. The key to making a green chile Frito pie is to be generous with the green chile and add enough broth to make the texture saucy but not soupy. Pinto beans are traditionally added, however Joe isn’t going to change his ways even for tradition so I only added beans to my pie. We garnished them with lettuce, tomato, onion and grated cheese. I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner. Green Chile Frito Pie is here to stay, we love it and I hope you will too!
Posted at 10:39 am by NativeNM, on October 14, 2021
When I woke up this morning it was 34 degrees! There’s a cold spell rolling through NM with snowfall in the northern mountains. But even though it was near freezing this morning, the sun is out and it feels warmer with every passing hour. With the cooler weather upon us I had a craving for a bowl of soothing pasta. I made a grocery run and picked up fresh ingredients to make tomato sauce with spinach and basil. That combined with Italian sausage and cooked tortellini made a pasta dish that was made for comfort. We had a leafy green salad with toasted bread, olive oil and dipping spices on the side. Simple yet tasty!
On our recent vacation to Wyoming we experienced some wonderful food, both familiar and some that was new to our palate. Josh took us to Calico’s Restaurant and Bar one evening. He had been hearing good things about their menu and wanted to give it a try. I was in the mood for a light meal and ordered their Watermelon Arugula salad. It was a big plate of marinated watermelon chunks with a sprinkling of arugula and goat cheese. The flavors in the honey lime marinade/dressing came through with just the right amount of sweetness. I was so impressed with this salad that I couldn’t wait to recreate it when we got home. I wasn’t sure if I could find watermelon since Fall is upon us. But sure enough when I went shopping they had some good sized watermelons that were on sale. While I was putting this together I kept thinking that this salad seemed familiar and not just from tasting it at Calico’s. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had seen a similar recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Back Road Journal. Karen’s recipe is a Spicy Stacked Watermelon Salad with Feta and Arugula which is a spicy version that looks absolutely delicious! If you haven’t tried a watermelon salad, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Posted at 10:03 am by NativeNM, on August 20, 2021
I’ve only smoked meats a few times and while the outcome has always excelled my expectations, the method of using charcoal was difficult. Using charcoal to smoke is tiresome and difficult to regulate the temperature that you need to maintain over so many hours. After many month’s of debate with myself, I decided to get a pellet smoker. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons before deciding on a Z-Grill. I’ve used it 3 times now and the meat has come out excellent, the cleanup has been fairly easy and has made the overall experience of smoking meats much more enjoyable. Recently my sister Kat gave me a bag of Gourmet Pistachio flavored pellets made here in New Mexico. I couldn’t wait to give it a try and thought smoked carnitas sounded so good using a pork butt roast with a red chile rub. I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. After 11 hours in the smoker, it reached the desired internal temperature of 203 degrees. I left it wrapped and set in a cooler to steam and rest for 2 additional hours. The moment I unwrapped the aluminum foil, the aroma of smoked pork permeated the kitchen. It smelled so good and we couldn’t wait to pick off a little piece to try. It was moist and tender and pulled apart so easily. The bark with all the spices is my favorite part. We set aside enough to make tacos and vacuum sealed the rest in half pound packages for the freezer. You can make so many meals with smoked carnitas. Try making tacos, taquitos, wraps, nachos, quesadillas, or a burrito bowl with rice and beans. Maybe I can convince anyone who is considering smoking meats that a pellet smoker is the way to go. It’s like a whole new level of cooking. I find it a fun experience from the first couple of hours when the aroma starts to infuse the air until the moment you take that first bite.
I haven’t had a cobb salad in ages They are traditionally made with a bed of romaine lettuce topped with sliced chicken breast, bacon bits, tomatoes, onions, avocado, hard boiled eggs and crumbled bleu cheese. I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes and substituted sliced green onions for the red onion and crumbled goat cheese for the bleu cheese. Joe suggested he would like deviled eggs instead of plain hard boiled eggs so that’s our twist on this classic salad. It tasted so good and with a simple vinaigrette drizzled over top. I prepped the eggs and bacon earlier in the day when it was cooler so as to avoid the afternoon heat. This salad was more than enough for the two of us plus leftovers for lunch the next day. Whether the idea of deviled eggs with a cobb salad sounds intriguing to your taste buds or not, cobb salad is a classic for a reason. You can take this tried and true recipe and change it up to make it your own.
As I was making the Blueberry Lavender Jam, I couldn’t think of anything better than to pair them with crepes. It’s been awhile since I’ve made crepes and thought to myself “what better time than now”. These crepes are so versatile and can be filled with sweet jam, cream cheese, or sprinkled with sugar. But as good as sweet crepes are, they are equally delicious with savory fillings. Crepes are so easy to make, the batter is quickly made in a blender and then swirled in a non-stick skillet with melted butter. Crepes are light but hold their shape and appear as if they are lace doilies on a plate. The crisp edges are my favorite part especially when they are freshly made. I’m including a recipe for Chicken Enchilada Crepes for a savory filling that you might enjoy. The filling includes chicken, cheese and a green chile bechamel sauce. It’s topped with the remaining cheese and bechamel sauce and then heated until it’s bubbling hot. It was a delicious savory meal that Joe and I enjoyed immensely. Crepes are so versatile for sweet or savory fillings, or even to enjoy with a sprinkle of sugar.
For the past few month’s I’ve been partnering with NM Dept. of Agriculture on a campaign to promote local New Mexico products. I try to come up with creative recipes using these products in ways that may seem “outside the box”. This week I tried a soup mix from Cibolo Junction and a dressing mix from Jillipepper. With the weather turning warmer soup isn’t ideal so I used the mix to make Braised Chicken and Rice. The ingredients list is light on the details but it includes different types of chiles, cilantro and lime with rice. It sounds Southwest but Joe and I both agreed that it had a lot of Cajun flavors going on. A possibility might be because I used less liquid and the flavors were enhanced. It was quite tasty and Joe (who loves Cajun dishes) really enjoyed it. This was paired with a simple salad on the side with Jillipepper’s Dress It mix. This dressing mix was one of the best things I’ve tried yet. I used it as a marinade for chicken, a dressing for pasta salad and had a little bit left over for our salads here. The one thing I’ve found is that using good local products helps our economy and can make our meals a bit easier to prepare. Of course I will always enjoy the meals made from scratch but it’s been fun trying out new things and tasting all the local products. Some products come from our local restaurants while others are entrepreneurships that have started out of one’s garden or kitchen. I’ve found some real gems that I would buy over and over again. Even if you don’t live in NM, maybe this will inspire you to try local products from your state that give you new and innovative ideas to incorporate them into your meals.
There’s a debate among New Mexicans whether red chile sauce tastes better made with chile powder or pods. I follow a facebook page for New Mexico recipes and learned that families love their red chile and will fiercely defend their method of making it. I’ve only made red chile with powder once before and it was gritty and I didn’t really like the texture. I’ve always preferred making a batch with pods by soaking them and then pureeing them in the blender. With pods you can strain them to remove all that pulp and peel. But after some time has gone by I’ve decided it was time to try powder again. I’m trying Tia Rita’s Home Style Enchilada Sauce that comes from Las Cruces in Southern NM. The ingredients listed are red chile, paprika, constarch, salt garlic, baking soda and oregano. That’s pretty close to the spices I would normally use so I gave it a try. The mix was quite easy and less messy. Just add water and simmer for 4 – 6 minutes. The texture was not quite as smooth as using pods but it wasn’t nearly as gritty as the powder I had used previously. We found it flavorful with just the right amount of heat for our palate. I made a plate of cheese enchiladas with beans and potatoes on the side and sopaipillas. The sopaipillas were made from the Desert Gardens Sopaipilla and Fry Bread Mix. I made fry bread for my Indian tacos and saved the rest of the dough for sopaipillas. The remaining dough made 6 sopaipillas which was perfect alongside our enchiladas. They tasted so good with a drizzle of honey. So the debate goes on whether red chile is better with powder or pods. I’d advise anyone to try both methods and decide for yourself!