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.
Posted at 11:02 am by NativeNM, on August 13, 2021
It’s August and that means it’s green chile season here in New Mexico. It’s the time of year when the aroma of roasted chile is in the air. We pack our freezers with enough chile to last a whole year until the next years harvest and then we do it all over again. And there’s always a debate about who makes the best green chile cheeseburgers. NM even has a cheeseburger trail marked with a map to locate the the best green chile cheeseburgers in the state. I recently saw a burger on Instagram from the NM State Fair that had a Zia symbol branded on top of the bun. It was one of the most appetizing burgers I’ve ever seen with melted cheese and chopped green chile and if that wasn’t enough, it had a fried green chile on top. I showed it to Joe who immediately said, “I can make you a Zia for the bun”. He has a laser cutter that can burn an image onto all sorts of things. So I took him up on his offer and recreated the burger which I named the Zia Burger. This is the ultimate green chile cheeseburger, at least Joe and I think so!
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!
I usually stay away from fried foods but when it comes to fry bread I will always make an exception. Lets face it, you just can’t make that crispy airy bread any other way. And one of the best ways to eat fry bread is to make Indian tacos aka Navajo tacos. This past year with Covid we’ve been ordering takeout instead of eating inside and I haven’t had an Indian taco from a restaurant in over a year. It tastes so much better when it’s fresh and comes out to the table warm and crisp. So I decided to make them at home and I have to say they tasted pretty darn good! The fry bread was a simple prep courtesy of Desert Gardens Fry Bread mix. Just add water, stir and let sit for 10 minutes. I used half the dough and placed the rest in the fridge to make sopaipillas the next day. For the toppings I browned ground beef and added beans and green chile. It tasted so good along with lettuce, cheese, tomato and onion. The one thing I would do is make smaller portions next time. These turned out huge and way more than we could eat but every bite was delicious!
Recently I spent a weekend roasting a chicken and pickling some radishes to make some of the tastiest Mojo tacos around. Have you seen the spatchcock chickens that everyone is grilling these days? I think they look amazing! Mojo chicken can be described as chicken that’s been marinated in orange and lime juice along with garlic and herbs. Making it spatchcock allowed the chicken to lay flat on the grill and cook evenly. The chicken turned out tender, juicy and full of flavor. A whole chicken for 2 people makes a lot of meals; there was enough chicken for tacos along with some wraps, a pot of soup and sandwiches. The tacos can have any number of toppings, I chose some picked radish mix along with cilantro, avocado and crumbled fresco cheese I splurged and picked up some street tortillas in corn and flour that are smaller but fun to eat. We enjoyed these little street tacos with salsa and chips and called it a meal. They tasted like we got them off a taco truck!
Posted at 9:31 am by NativeNM, on February 23, 2021
This weekend I cleaned out the fridge to freshen it up and rearrange so that everything fit in a more organized way. While I was cleaning I came across an unopened container of feta cheese that got pushed to the back. The expiration date was still good but I needed to find a way to use it soon or toss it. I searched the web and found that feta cheese can make an incredible dip that can be savory or sweet or both. This spread has it all and is layered in flavors that will tantalize your taste buds with the salty feta, sweet honey and spicy pistachios. We enjoyed it with pita chips or slices of toasted artisan bread. I made this creamy bowl with some New Mexico honey and another bowl with Monroe’s Red Chile Honey. We enjoyed both with the red chile honey tasting slightly spicier. If you enjoy sweet and salty flavors this might be the appetizer for you. Continue reading →
Posted at 10:34 am by NativeNM, on February 9, 2021
One of the most popular breakfasts in New Mexico is Huevo Rancheros. It’s traditionally made with soft corn tortillas topped with 2 fried eggs smothered in red chile sauce. And most likely you’ll find a side of pinto beans and fried potatoes on the side. It’s delicious!! Normally I have homemade red chile sauce on hand but this time I am trying one of our locally made sauces. It made this breakfast a breeze to put together. I know from experience, it’s not always easy to find dried red chiles or the right chile powder to make your own sauce, especially if you live in a different state or different part of the country. In a pinch you can always use a can of red enchilada sauce to smother your eggs. The crispy breakfast potatoes and beans on the side complete this meal. If you haven’t had Huevos Rancheros it should be on your bucket list. I think you will find it one of the most enjoyable meals any time of day! Continue reading →
Posted at 10:49 am by NativeNM, on February 2, 2021
Pinto beans are one of the main staple foods here in New Mexico. You will find beans on most tables multiple times a week. It can be a side dish but for a lot of folks, it’s the main meal with a flour tortilla on the side. In all the years we lived in Kansas it was quite different going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. You would find refried beans sometimes but black beans were often served as a side . I grew to love black beans but since we’ve been back I find myself reacquainted with the pinto’s of my childhood. Every time we get takeout from our favorite restaurants I always ask for extra beans, no rice. Joe is the opposite, wouldn’t touch a bean if his life, well you get the picture, he doesn’t like beans. So every now and then I will make myself a little pot of beans and spice them up with onion and chiles, sometimes bacon, and sometimes add a little chopped cilantro or grated cheese. My favorite is still my Mom’s Charro Beans. Her recipe is my guide with the substitution of roasted red chiles for green and red chile jerky for bacon. I had no idea how jerky might taste in a pot of beans, but to my surprise it turned out really really good! About half of the jerky is put in the pot along with the beans while saving a few little bits to go on top for crunch. It’s a delicious blend of flavors and texture. Here in NM you can find locally made jerky on almost every corner of the state. There are so many jerky flavors that might taste good in a pot of beans but red chile is a natural choice! Continue reading →
Posted at 12:16 pm by NativeNM, on January 29, 2021
Chilaquiles is an easy dish made from fried tortillas tossed in red or green chile sauce and topped with a fried egg. That’s it! There are toppings involved that are optional for every individual taste. Most recipes add a crumbled cheese such as queso fresco or cotija, cilantro and chopped red onion. Some simmer the tortillas in the sauce which softens the tortillas, however I like the tortillas to have a little bit of texture and crunch. In the past I usually make a red sauce with dried red chiles, a combination of NM Red, Guajillo and Ancho chiles. This time I’m trying something new, a sauce by “The Fresh Chile Co.” which is made from Hatch fresh red chiles. The sauce is a puree of red chiles, garlic, salt, and citrus which makes a beautiful red sauce that is fantastic! If you are looking for a spicy breakfast or brunch, chilaquiles is the perfect choice. Continue reading →