Christmas Time: Red and Green Chile Sauce – New Mexico

The chile pepper is the official state vegetable of the Land of Enchantment — along with pinto beans. Spanish settlers brought the chile pepper to the state from Mexico where it had been cultivated by the Aztecs for centuries. Bright red chile ristras (strings of peppers) grace patios and fences across the state and are both decorative and utilitarian.

New Mexico Red and Green Chile Sauce

The official state question of New Mexico is, “Red or green?” When dining out, if a server asks you this, he or she is referring to which type of chile you want on top of your enchiladas or tamales. If you can’t decide, don’t worry, just order “Christmas” to get a taste of both.

Both of these chile sauces are remarkably easy to make at home. For the red sauce, buy dried chile pods that are labeled “Chile Nuevo Mexico.”  They will look like this.

New Mexico red chiles for red chile sauce    New Mexico red chiles for red chile sauce

We scraped out the seeds and membranes before preparing and the resulting sauce was delicious with just a hint of heat. If you like it spicier, reserve some of seeds and add them back in for a kick.

The green sauce is usually made with Hatch peppers which are grown in the Hatch Valley. Hatch, New Mexico, is the self-proclaimed chile capital of the world and hosts a Chile Festival each year in August. If you can’t find fresh Hatch peppers, you might be able to find them canned or frozen. We subbed in Anaheim peppers, but poblano or even cubanelle peppers will also work. Roast the peppers first to add depth of flavor. Our green chile sauce was mild but oh-so-flavorful.

Top eggs, breakfast burritos, enchiladas or tacos with either of these sauces. Use it to elevate mac-n-cheese, or add to cornbread to give it a spicy boost. Or spoon it over beef burgers to make green chile cheeseburgers – a Santa Fe classic.

If hot and spicy sauces, mustards, salsas and marinades are your thing, attend the 27th Annual Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, March 6-8, 2015, in Albuquerque.

 

New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Recipe courtesy of Al and Sheri Purdue of Santa Fe, NM, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 12-15 dried New Mexico chili pods
  • Hot water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt

Instructions

Open each chili pod with a knife. Using latex or rubber gloves, remove the stems, seeds and any blemishes (reserve the seeds for later in case the sauce is too mild). Rinse the pods well with cold water. Place pods in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for about an hour or until they are quite soft. Place pods in the bowl of a food processor and add a bit of the water they were soaking in. Puree until the skins dissolve, about 2-3 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit more water until desired consistency is reached. Add garlic cloves, oregano and salt. Process another minute. Taste and adjust salt. Add a few of the seeds if desired to add some heat. Before serving, heat sauce until boiling. Will keep for about 5 days refrigerated.

 

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Recipe courtesy of Al and Sheri Purdue of Santa Fe, NM, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 green peppers (Hatch preferred, but we used Anaheim)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt

Instructions

Cut peppers in half. Flatten peppers with the heel of your hand. Roast under the broiler on a baking tray lined with foil, about 10 minutes until the skin is blistered brown. Remove from the oven and once cool enough to handle, place in a paper bag. Fold down the top of the bag and let sit for about 10 minutes. Remove peppers from bag. Remove stems, skin and seeds. Chop the peppers to ¼ inch dice. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Blend in flour. Add water gradually, whisking to break up any clumps. Add peppers. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Will keep for about 5 days refrigerated.

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4 thoughts on “Christmas Time: Red and Green Chile Sauce – New Mexico”

  1. Looks fantastic, I love spicy foods so this is perfect! Hopefully I won’t add in too many seeds hahah! Look forward to hearing more recipes from you. Your picture looks delicious too.

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