THE IDIOT’S GUIDE: ETHNIC FOODS #2
Most states have official flowers, birds, even insects, but can you think of any that have an official state question? New Mexico does: “red or green?”
This can be answered one of three ways: red, green, or Christmas, referring, of course, to what color chile you want as a topping on your food. The New Mexican chile is a subspecies of the Anaheim chile pepper and is red or green depending upon the point at which it is picked.
New Mexican cuisine developed from a blend of cultures—Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and American—in a way that is distinct from the more familiar Tex-Mex style of Mexican-American food. Common dishes served are chiles rellenos, sopapillas, enchiladas, and posole. Here are a few recipes to get you started on a delicious New Mexican meal!
Sopapillas are little triangles of puffy, fried bread eaten as “sop” bread, for dipping into soups and stews, such as a posole. They can also be stuffed with savory foods or served as a dessert, filled with honey. The name is Spanish for “holds soup.”
- 1 3/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. cold water
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. shortening
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Cut in shortening. Add water. Mix to hold together. Knead until smooth. Let rise 5 minutes. Roll out dough smooth and thin, about 1/8” thick. Cut into 5” squares, then into triangles. Deep fry at 400º F. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Red Chile Posole
Posole, or Hominy Stew, is a thick, red soup traditionally prepared for celebrations, particularly on Christmas Eve. Making posole is certainly a labor of love, as it is allowed to simmer for up to six hours before being served. Though it is most often made with red chile, green chile is sometimes used in northern New Mexico.
- 1Diced Onion
- 3 Pounds Diced Pork
- 12 Cups of Beef Broth
- 1 Pound Dried Hominy (you can use 2 pounds of canned hominy, but then you may have to thicken the soup with a little corn starch)
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
- 4 Cups Red Chile Puree (or rinsed and crumbled dried Red Chiles)
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Mexican or regular Oregano
In a large soup pot over med-high heat, sauté onion and pork until pork is slightly browned. Add beef broth, hominy, garlic, and red chile. Let simmer until hominy is soft, about an hour and a half, and then stir in cumin and oregano. Posole is often garnished with cilantro and lime, but corn nuts and cheese are also delicious additions. The longer you simmer, the better it tastes, and it gets even better as a re-heat the second day!
Enjoy your delicious New Mexican meal of sopapillas and posole!
– Rose Barrett & Rachel Adelsberger