With a few twists, posole and chiles rellenos still make for a seasonable meal.
In New Mexico, winters often stretch into March and right up till Easter, and cooks keep things warm and welcoming by making some of the state’s hearty, filling dishes. In fact, a couple of our favorite recipes from New Mexico are just too good to be confined to only one season. And by adding a prickly pear margarita or some guacamole, you could enjoy these signature dishes year-round. Whether you're in front of a kiva fireplace or in the comfort of your own kitchen, these classics will hit the spot.
Winter Squash Posole
“While posole is a time-honored side dish for New Mexicans, the addition of squash or pumpkin turns posole into a delicious and hearty main dish. Simply substituting the chicken broth in the original recipe with vegetable broth lets the whole family, including the vegetarians and vegans, enjoy the same meal.” — Chef Danny Cohen, former chef-instructor at the Santa Fe School of Cooking
(Serves 4 to 6)
3 cups posole, soaked overnight in water
1 – 2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes, roasted*
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 – 3 New Mexican green chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded; or ¾ cup chiles, frozen, thawed, and chopped
½ cup white wine
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock, more if needed, for a stew consistency
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
For garnish: sour cream and green onions, diagonally slivered.
Drain the posole and transfer it to a large pot. Cover the posole with water and simmer until tender and it begins to open up or “blooms,” about 2 hours.
In a large pot over medium heat, add about ¼ cup vegetable oil and heat until hot. Add the onion, Mexican oregano, 1 teaspoon sage, and sauté until onions are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the green chile and white wine; simmer until the wine is reduced almost completely. Add the posole and stock to the pot, and turn heat up to medium-high, simmering for about 20 minutes to infuse flavors.
To serve, add the roasted squash to the pot and add apple cider vinegar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Heat about 5 minutes, until the stew is heated through. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onions.
To roast the squash, peel and remove the seeds. Dice and toss with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425-degree oven until tender and golden brown in spots. Cool before using.
La Plazuela Chiles Rellenos
“At La Fonda we’ve been honoring the Fred Harvey Chiles Relleno recipe for decades. The recipe has evolved over the years to highlight the unique flavors of New Mexico’s signature chiles paired perfectly with our Mexican cheese blend and topped with slow-cooked, earthy red chile.” — Executive chef Lane Warner, La Plazuela, La Fonda on the Plaza
8 Hatch green chiles, roasted, peeled, and split with seeds removed
8 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated
8 ounces Asadero cheese, grated
½ cup half-and-half
In a mixer with paddle attachment, mix cheeses and half-and-half until soft and pipeable. Put in pastry bag and fill chiles.
La Fonda Chiles Rellenos Batter
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
12 ounces beer
1 whole egg
3 cups/24 ounces peanut oil for frying
Mix the dry ingredients together, add the beer and the egg, and mix until smooth. Lightly coat rellenos with batter and fry at 300 degrees until golden brown. Serve with your favorite red or green chile*, topped with Chihuahua cheese and melted.
The red chile, the matured green chile, is frequently dried and ground to a powder. These dried or powdered fruits are turned into a red chile sauce. The dried peppers are rehydrated by boiling in a pot and then blended with various herbs and spices, such as onion, garlic, and occasionally Mexican oregano.
Photography: Courtesy Chris Corrie