New Mexico Chile Facts
Did you know 7,000 years ago chile originated in Bolivia & Peru? Or that Columbus introduced chile into Europe around 1650? Did you know Europeans thought it was a spice, something like black pepper then ingeniously named it Red Pepper? The spicy unique flavor of chili has taken hold of palates across the world and particularly those in America. Did you know the state of New Mexico leads the US in the production of chile? Well, if you didn’t and want to learn more- read on!
Chile is classified as a vegetable when green and as a spice when dried and ground into a powder. Green chile can contain up to 6 times more vitamin C than a Florida orange, while Red chile can contain two times more Vitamin A than a carrot. Red chile is said to be hotter than green because of its extended exposure to the sun.
People once traditionally dried chile on the ground or on roof tops (which can still be observed today). Approximately 100 year ago experimentation with methods to keep chile pods cleaner and away from birds resulted in today’s version of the Chile Ristra (chile pods hung on a string). This method proved beneficial to elongating the shelf life of the delightful crop. Thus began the tradition of hanging the ristra in front of ones home, which soon turned into the popular belief that this was a welcome sign to visitors. It’s also believed that hanging a chile ristra in front of your door brings good health and fortune to those who occupy the home. Chile has more recently become a popular decorative element inside the home. Creativity has spawned many craft item in various shapes, sizes and colors (red, green and yellow). Popular chile rista shapes consist of wreaths, crosses, and hearts that are frequently paired with colored corn, shredded husks and dried flowers to make beautiful home décor.
New Mexico Chile Traditions
End of August ushers in harvest time for chile farmers in New Mexico. Cities and communities throughout the state celebrate this important harvest with diverse, yet always tasty festivals like the popular Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch New Mexico held over Labor Day Weekend; the Whole Enchilada Festival held in Las Cruces late September; Santa Fe’s Wine & Chile Festival as well as the Fiesta de Santa Fe held in the Capitol city mid to late September to name a just few. Though chile peppers are small in stature they are a huge part of New Mexico’s heritage, culture and are a central part to most loved New Mexico traditions and celebrations. The sweet fiery scent of roasted chilies filling the late summer and crisp fall air bring welcomed comfort to visitors and locals alike.
Sample of a typical New Mexico Chile Recipe that is simple and freezes well follows: Note: *This recipe and others can be found in the “Red Chile Bible” a book available for purchase from Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast for $13.00 plus shipping/handling. Limited supplies available so order yours today 1-800-461-4599. Enjoy!
Pork with Chile Colorado*
3 Tbs. lard or vegetable oil 4 New Mexico chilies
1.5 lbs. boned pork shoulder, cut into 1” chunks
2 lg cloves garlic 1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted & grounded
1 tsp. Mexican oregano ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt 2 cups rich chicken broth
Heat oil in large heavy pot and brown pork in batches over high heat. Remove to a plate. Wipe the dried chile with a damp cloth, discard the stems and seeds, and tear into pieces. Fry the chile in the hot oil until fragrant (about 5 minutes), stirring to prevent scorching. Remove to a bowl, cover with boiling water, and soften (20 or 30 minutes). Put chile in a blender with about ½ cup of the soaking water and the garlic, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Blend to a puree. Reheat the oil in the pot, and pour the puree into the hot oil. Sauté the puree, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Stir the stock into the puree, and then return the pork to the pot. Bring the stew to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and stew the meat slowly for about an hour. Remove the cover and continue simmering 30 minutes to an hour until the pork is very tender. Add more chicken stock, if necessary, to keep the meat moist. Serves 4.
Next, you’ll pass the Pecos Fish Hatchery (in partial operation) which is off to the left and on your way to Dalton Canyon. The Dalton gang (four brothers) were some of the boldest and most feared outlaws in the southwest and were last sighted in New Mexico after attempting train robberies in California. Watch for the signs and turn right into Dalton Canyon. You will find a delightful backdrop of colorful canyon rock splashed smooth by the Pecos river water and pooled to create a local favorite swimming hole. Take a splash or make a splash by skipping a smooth river stone across this peaceful, neck deep swimming hole. Regardless the degree of your wet & wild enjoyment, this area provides a great photo moment.
At this point, one can begin the journey home to Santa Fe or head to Cowles, NM and hike the Cave Creek Trail (an appropriate family hike, 6 miles out and back if the caves are the turn-around point). Heavily used by hikers and horses, this trail is lined with large, aged Douglas firs, aspens and wildflowers. Left to the trip planner’s final designs, this day trip from Santa Fe is truly a delightful experience for the mind, body and soul compliments of Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast inn.
This exciting day trip can easily include an optional hike, so bring proper shoes, bottled water, sun hat and screen and a map. An easy hour plus drive north from Santa Fe’s Pueblo Bonito bed & breakfast inn, takes you to one of the most beautiful red rock areas of Northern New Mexico. This naturally beautiful area was much of the inspiration for famous southwestern painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Begin this New Mexico day travel adventure, with your first stop at Bode’s General Store and pick up a few items for a picnic lunch. Great sandwiches are hand made at this well known locals general store. Phyllis- our resident Abiquiu expert highly recommends the BLTAT (bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado and turkey- quite a mouthful if by name alone!). As sandwiches are prepared, take a quick gander across the street and up the hill where lies the Village of Abiquiu. Take time to stop and meet Napoleon Garcia, the official “area welcome center“. This colorful gentleman is an interesting story teller for as a child Napoleon worked for Georgia O’Keeffe. Sharing many a memory or tale about this intriguing woman and her life while he was a boy, you may gain a new perspective on Georgia. Next, hopping back in the car to continue down the road (toward the dam) to Abiquiu Lake. You will come upon a great picnic spot overlooking this 4,000-acre lake on the Chama River. A scenic high walled canyon of the Chama River runs above the main body of the lake which is about 3 miles long.Enjoy that tasty Bodas picnic lunch amongst the quiet, pristine beauty of this enchanting area. Don’t forget a photo or two as memories like this just aren’t available every day! After lunch head off to Ghost Ranch.
Hikers need to check out information on Chimney Rock, Box Canyon, Kitchen Mesa, or Piedra Lumbre hikes available at the Reception Desk of Ghost Ranch. Don’t want to hike? Then visit the living museum! A exhibit of conservation, ecology and heritage immortalized by the painter Georgia O’Keeffe. As you begin your return travel toward Santa Fe, don’t miss Echo Amphitheater. This natural stone amphitheater was hollowed out of sandstone by ages of erosion and is just down the road from Ghost Ranch. Still looking for more? Try the Christ in the Desert Monastery who’s church, meditation garden, gift shop and restrooms are open till 5:00 pm (take 151 and go about 15 miles). Now your day should be winding down so you need to head back home to Pueblo Bonito Inn for warm hospitality and some refreshing afternoon tea. This day trip provides a full or half day of exploration, beauty and New Mexico enchantment. Enjoy!
10th consecutive year- Santa Fe Voted One of the Most Popular North American Travel Cities!
“In polls over the years Santa Fe has been consistently rated as a travel destination on a par with New York, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, and Vancouver among others,” said Jim Bradbury, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Visitors are seeking something genuine and original in their travels and Santa Fe’s history, culture, people, and attractions provide that authenticity. In addition, the city delivers a high degree of customer service that keeps travelers returning to Santa Fe.”
Of Santa Fe, Travel+Leisure said: “…in this ever-changing city… thick-walled adobe buildings nearly 400 years old stand cheek-by-jowl with avant-garde art galleries and edgy modern restaurants. It’s a reminder that, despite its vibrant population of skiers and hikers, painters and photographers, alternative healers, and hippies, this city is strongly connected to its Spanish-Native American heritage–and to the pristine landscape that surrounds it.”
So, book your next vacation in beautiful Santa Fe and experience all it’s old world charm while staying at the historic Pueblo Bonito Inn. See you soon!
Cities were rated on six criteria: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people, shopping, and value. Scores were compiled using a 1 to 5 rating of each category. A minimum number of responses was required for a city to be eligible for inclusion in the awards listings. Results appear in the magazine’s August, 2011 issue.
Once again, Santa Fe is included in national publication “Travel + Leisure magazine” in thier ”World’s Best Awards” list of top 10 favorite United States and Canadian travel destinations. For 2011, Santa Fe ranked fifth as the most-popular travel city in North America by the magazine’s travel-savvy public.