New Mexico Foods- A Santa Fe Vacationer’s Guide (#2 in series)
Compliments of Pueblo Bonito Inn, a bed and breakfast in Santa Fe
Chile, beans, and corn are definitely “basic ingredients” to New Mexico cooking. All can be locally grown, with chile being New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop. New Mexico chile, especially when harvested as green chile, is perhaps the defining ingredient of New Mexican food compared to neighboring styles. Other distinctive elements of traditional New Mexico cooking include: blue corn, stacked enchiladas, and sopapillas. When taking a vacation to New Mexico, visitors find green chile to be a popular ingredient served in a wide range of foods including: enchiladas and burritos, cheeseburgers, french fries, bagels, eggs and piazzas. Santa Fe Restaurateurs do not limit themselves to simply these categories, but are always creating innovative and tantalizing new culinary creations within the kitchens of this historic and enchanting city of “different”!
That being said, foods and dishes common to New Mexico to aid our Santa Fe visitors:
- Breakfast burrito: a smaller-sized breakfast version of a burrito, typically including scraqmbled eggs, potatoes (papas), red or green chile, cheese, and sometimes meat (bacon, sausage, carne adovada).
- Calabacitas: Green summer squash with onions, garlic, and other vegetables, fried.
- Caldillo: a thin, green chile stew (or soup) of meat (usually beef, often pork or a mixture), potatoes, and green chiles.
- Carne adovada: Cubes of pork, marinated and cooked in red chile, garlic and oregano. Often spicy.
- Carne asada: roasted or broiled meat (often flank steak), marinated.
- Chalupa: a corn tortilla, fried into a bowl shape and filled with shredded chicken or other meat, and/or beans, and usually topped with guacamole and salsa.
- Chicharrones: small pieces of pork rind with a thin layer of meat that are deep-fried.
- Chile or chile sauce: A sauce made from red or green chiles and served hot over many New Mexican dish (referred to a “smothered“). The term “Christmas” is commonly used in New Mexico when ordering both red and green chile in one dish.
- Chile con queso: chile and melted cheese mixed together into a dip.
- Chile rellenos: whole green chiles stuffed, dipped in an egg batter, and fried.
- Chimichanga: a small, deep-fried meat and (usually) bean burrito, containing (or smothered with) chile sauce and cheese. Popularized by the Allsup’s convenience store! A series of humorous commercials in the 1980s featured people attempting to pronounce the name correctly.
- Chorizo: spicy pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and red chile. Used in ground or finely chopped form as a breakfast side dish or often as an alternative to ground beef or shredded chicken in other dishes.
- Churro: fried-dough pastry snack. Churros are typically fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with sugar.
- Empanada: pasty or turnover filled with minced meat, spices and nuts or sweet fruit.
- Enchiladas: corn tortillas filled with chicken meat, and/or cheese. Served either rolled, or stacked, and covered with chile sauce and cheese and optionally topped with a fried egg. Stacked enchiladas made with blue corn tortillas are a particularly New Mexican variation.
- Flan: a caramel custard.
- Flauta: small, tightly rolled, fried enchilada.
- Frijoles: beans, pinto beans (along with chile, one of the official state vegetables).
- Green chile cheeseburger: widely considered the New Mexican variety of hamburger! Regular hamburger topped with melted cheese and whole or chopped green chile. Distinctively New Mexican!
- Green chile stew: thick soup with green chile, meat (usually beef, often pork or a mixture), potatoes, garlic and onion.
- Guacamole: mashed, seasoned avocado, with chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic, lime and chile- often served with chips- but is not limited!
- Huevos rancheros: traditionally was eggs poached in chile, however the modern version typically has fried eggs (sunny-side up/ over easy) covered with cheese, chili on a corn tortilla and served with pinto beans (frijoles).
- Mole sauce: Spices, almonds, red chile, tomatoes, and chocolate, often served with chicken. Café Pasqual is famous for this dish and is a close walk from Pueblo Bonito bed breakfast inn!
- Navajo Taco: Native American fry bread served with ground beef, smothered in chile sauce, refried beans, sprinkled with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream. One of Amy’s favorite treats from street vendor on the plaza during Fiesta celebrations!
- Pico de gallo (“rooster’s beak”): A cold salsa with thick-chopped fresh chiles, tomatoes, onions and cilantro- no tomato paste and never vinegar!
- Pinones: piñon (or pine) nuts, a traditional food of Native Americans in New Mexico. Harvested from the pinon pine tree.
- Posole: thick stew made with hominy corn, simmered with pork, chile, onions and garlic. Both red and green chile versions exist.
- Frijoles refritos: refried beans.
- Salsa: uncooked chiles/peppers, tomatoes, onions mixture- frequently blended or mixed with tomato paste to produce a more sauce-like texture.
- Sopaipilla (“little pillows”): a puffed,fried bread, eaten split or with a corner bitten off and filled with honey (as accompaniment in place of tortillas). Can be stuffed with meat, beans, cheese and chile sauce if an served as an entrée.
- Taco: corn tortilla fried into a trough shape, filled with meats, cheese, or beans. Topped with chopped lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheese. Also served using a soft, rolled flour tortilla.
- Tamale: meat rolled in cornmeal dough, wrapped traditionally in corn husks and steamed. Served most often with red chile sauce. New Mexican style tamales typically vary from others in that red chile powder is usually blended into the masa. A traditional food served at family gatherings, holidays and festivals. A New Mexican “soul” food and featured in Pueblo Bonito Inn’s breakfast buffet!
- Taquito: tightly rolled, deep-fried variant of the taco.
- Tortilla: flatbread made of unbleached flour.