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Sunday Food: Green Chili


Green among several varieties of chili

(Picture courtesy of uwgb admissions on

One of the delicious features of New Mexican cuisine is a widespread use of the green peppers that give heat and – to my taste buds – more depth to the taste of the chili.   I’ve had several meals here in Albuquerque this week that give you a choice between red and green chili ingredients, and am happy to have that option.

One of its defining characteristics of New Mexican Cuisine is the dominance of the New Mexican chile, which are either red or green depending on their stage of ripeness when picked.[4] Other distinctive elements include blue corn, the stacked enchilada, and sopapillas into which honey is added moments before eating.[5] Tex-Mex additions such as sour cream (lack of refrigeration) and Cal-Mex additions such as guacamole (avocado does not grow in the desert climate of New Mexico) are also noticeably absent in traditional New Mexican cuisine.

The New Mexico chile, especially when harvested as green chile, is perhaps the defining ingredient of New Mexican food compared to neighboring styles. Chile is New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop.[6] Within New Mexico, green chile is a popular ingredient in a wide range of foods including enchiladas and burritos, cheeseburgersfrench friesbagels, and pizzas, and is added to the standard menu or offered off-menu of many national American food chains.[7]

A recipe you can use, since you probably won’t just pick up and travel to New Mexico for this good taste, is a standard one.


1 tablespoon canola oil
12 ounces ground sirloin $
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon hot paprika
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer $
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, undrained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and crushed $
1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded sharp cheddar cheese $
1 green onion, sliced

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add beef; sauté for 5 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Add chopped onion, chili powder, and paprika; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in beer; bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add salsa and the next 3 ingredients (through beans); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle 1 1/4 cups chili into each of 4 bowls, and top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle with green onion.

Enjoy, and if you throw the two colors of chili together, in NM it’s usually called Christmas.  While the spelling differs the pronunciation is the same, we call the bowl of good food ‘chili’, and the bean a ‘chile’.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.