What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

Sometimes we get a little carried away. On one of our first visits to New Mexico, we became so enamored of the flavor of green chile that we filled a couple of big cardboard boxes with fresh chiles and checked them through as baggage on our flight back to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We soon discovered that it's a lot more trouble to roast the chiles ourselves on a Smoky Joe backyard grill than it is to buy them already roasted from one of the growers at a farmers market. Now we try to be a bit more restrained. Even in a standard grocery store, there are plenty of products that will pack a punch back home. And the good news is that the most essential don't...Read More

Sweet corn tamales with black truffle

During last July's research trip to Australia, I babied a single prize black truffle all the way home. I kept it cool inside a rigid plastic box wrapped with absorbent paper that I changed every 12 hours so it wouldn't get too moist. When asked at Border Control if I had any fresh food, I said, “yes, a black truffle.” The agent said, “OK,” and waved me through. The real question was what to make with this spectacular faceted lump (see above) that was an 80-gram culinary gem? How could I stretch it as far as possible without skimping on the flavor in each dish? After an indulgent meal of black truffle sliced over buttered pasta (see last post), I decided to set aside the...Read More

Mole amarillo for turkey enchiladas

Mole amarillo is a classic sauce for Day of the Dead meals in Oaxaca. When we first started visited the Oaxaca region in the 1980s, we already knew the spicy, chocolate-y mole poblano. But of the seven classic moles, the one that really blew us away was the complex, subtle, and tangibly acidic mole amarillo (yellow mole). It was the first taste of travel that we labored to bring home. In those days, that meant growing our own tomatillos and yellow chile peppers and experimenting a lot to get the flavors right. It really does represent the culmination of our garden, which may be why we introduced mole amarillo with enchiladas into our post-Thanksgiving rotation many years ago. It's a perfect way to use to...Read More

Beyond chile peppers: the nuanced Santa Fe cooking of Estevan García at the Tabla de los Santos

We had the pleasure of spending Spanish Market in Santa Fe last July at the Hotel St. Francis, a luxury hotel that strongly resembles a monastery. And while we were there, we enjoyed the cooking of Estevan García, one of the pioneers of refined Southwestern cooking from his days in Los Angeles. A one-time monk himself, he seems right at home at the St. Francis. His cooking is as straightforward and unpretentious as it is subtle and delicious. We wrote about him for the Boston Globe's food section. The piece appeared on May 9. You can find it online here. The article also included García's recipe for this incredibly rich goat's milk flan: GOAT'S MILK FLAN Serves 6 The goat's milk adds a slight tang...Read More

What to Eat at the Airport: DFW

When we started this blog about two years ago, we never dreamed that we would be singing the praises of airport food. But that was before Pappasito's Cantina became the only bright spot in a very trying day at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. We were en route from Boston to Albuquerque when our early morning connecting flight in Dallas was canceled without explanation. The next flight wasn't until late in the day and we were resigned to a long, boring wait and generic fast food. We were debating the merits of pre-made sandwiches, bagels, yogurt smoothies, and McBurger when we stumbled on Pappasito's in Terminal A. The long bar looked so inviting that we grabbed a couple of stools, perused the Tex-Mex menu and...Read More

Duran Central Pharmacy — a prescription for chile cuisine

[caption id="attachment_449" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Counter at Duran Central Pharmacy"][/caption] The drugstore lunch counter is a dying breed all over the country, but it's alive and well in Albuquerque, N.M. Duran Central Pharmacy (1815 Central NW, Albuquerque, N.M., 505-247-4141) has been around for 45 years and in the same location since 1975. It's close to the tourist-haunted Old Town, yet locals make up most of the clientele. The food isn't fancy, but it's definitely special and highly local. Because it's full of chile peppers, it's good for you. The red chile sauce avoids beans and it also eschews such adulterants as cumin. The green chile is also a straight-ahead stew of chopped green chile peppers with just a little sautéed onion and garlic. [caption id="attachment_450" align="alignleft"...Read More

Warming up with green chile chicken stew

[caption id="attachment_428" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Green chile chicken stew"][/caption] El Pinto Restaurant (10500 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM, 505-898-1771, may seat up to 1,000 people at a time, yet the quality of the handmade New Mexican food belies the size. Maybe that's because it is a family restaurant run by the grandsons of Josephina Chavez-Griggs. Her daughter Katy opened La Posta de la Mesilla in 1939, and Katy's nephews Jim and John Thomas Meek ("the salsa twins") operate El Pinto. Many of their recipes, though, go back to Josephina. When I was there recently on a cold November night, the green chile chicken stew lifted both the chill and my mood. It's a perfect winter warmer and simple to make at home once you have...Read More

Going green (chile, that is)

[caption id="attachment_417" align="alignright" width="232" caption="Roasting green chiles at El Pinto"][/caption] After David and I spend much time in New Mexico, we develop chile withdrawal when we go home. It's not our problem alone. We've met chile growers who admit to carrying small cans of green chile with them whenever they leave the region--just so they can get a fix each day. The science of chile addiction says our reaction comes from the capsaicin in chile peppers. The alkaloid not only makes chiles hot, it also stimulates endorphins that create the feeling of well-being. Green chile sauce from El Pinto Restaurant, which has been an Albuquerque mainstay since 1962, is a good basic sauce to heat and put on scrambled eggs or enchiladas. Unfortunately, the nearest...Read More