Saturday, November 03, 2007

Betty Crocker - The New Mexican Edition

I've known Honey for 12 years and 5 months. Over the course of our friendship, courtship, not-talkingship,courtship, engagement, and marriage I have attempted to learn about the subtle differences between Tex-Mex and "New Mexican" food. Honey grew up in New Mexico, and until I met him, I didn't know that chips and Queso weren't a universal appetizer at a mexican food restaurant.

The biggest differences I have discovered have to do with the ingredients. The main ingredient in Tex-Mex is cheese. Any kind. Just grate some, combine it with some meat, cook it, throw some more grated cheese on top for presentation, and you've got Tex-Mex.

The main ingredient in "New Mexican" food is green chili. You can make any dish suddenly become "New Mexican" in origin by adding some green chili. Pizza? Hamburgers? Jelly? Cake? Candle scents? All become "New Mexican" if you add some green chili. At McDonald's? In New Mexico? You can add green chili to any sandwich offered just like you can cheese or mayo. Cross the Texas border, and they look at you like you're crazy if you request green chili.

And not just any old can of green chili, mind you. New Mexicans like their chili fresh, roasted, seasoned and chopped just right. Which is great in September because that is the month for chili harvest and there is chili and a roaster on just about every corner. But what is a good New Mexican to do when the harvest season is past and the chili is no longer fresh?

Well, buy a huge gunny sack or two of fresh chili, have it roasted, bag it in smaller individual serving sizes, and freeze it. The goodness will last until the next chili harvest! That's our chili on the bottom shelf, right next to the popscicles. Because the kids love cherry-chili and bubble gum-chili flavored popscicles.

New Mexicans, can stop reading here. I am going to fill the rest of the world in on the secrets of chili that you were no doubt taught as a young child.

If you are from any place other than New Mexico, USA, here is your tutorial. Green Chili for Dummies, or Green Chili 101, or whatever.

This is what we do at our house. From here on out you can refer to me as Betty Crocker. Or, La Betty Crocker. I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here. Honey usually does the green chili prep at our house. After all, it's his heritage. But he wasn't home when I was creating this post, so I filled in. I've picked up a thing or two in 12 years.

When we cook with green chili we assemble these tools. The green chili, a cutting board and knives, salt, and garlic powder.

Here's a close up of how the chili looks in the bag after it has been defrosted.

The first step after defrosting is peeling the chili. Remove the stem, all of the skin, and as many of the seeds as possible. You can just stick it all back in the freezer bag and discard. As you peel the chili, lay it out on a cutting board. When you're done peeling, season the chili with salt and garlic powder.

Then chop the chili. Bubba took this picture because it takes 2 hands to chop, and we don't let Bubba play with knives yet.

Here is what 1/2 of the chili looks like when it is all chopped. I forgot to take a pic before I put the other half in my dish.

Here is what the other half looks like actually in the dish.
Needless to say, we are having "New Mexican" food tonight. If Honey were home, I would take a pic of the smile on his face when he knows we are cooking with chili.


Cindy said...

Very impressive, Betty!

SJ said...

Mmmmmmmm!!!! Love me some green chili! We're seriously rationing ours now since we missed the "season" and you just cant get it in bulk up here (we usually get it shipped from NM).

But, also being married into the NM chili thing, I've had to learn the exact same thing! (But hey...I hadnt thought of seasoning the chili first...good idea!) Anyway, I dont know about you but when I'm trying to think of something to cook, if it involves thawing, peeling and chopping chili then I skip it.

So what we started doing is when we first get the chili and roast them, we go ahead and peel them and chop them (in the food processor) and put them in ice cube trays. Freeze them good, then put the frozen cubes in ziploc bags and throw them back in the freezer. Then when I need some chili I just take out a couple cubes and throw them in!