Many states and countries have a national dish or a regional specialty, but nowhere does a particular food take on such an elevated status as in New Mexico, where in every corner of this state, you’ll find the veritable New Mexico chile pepper.
While in a global sense the state doesn’t compete in terms of volume, they certainly win in terms of passion – from the Chile Pepper Institute in Las Cruces to making peppers a part of New Mexico cuisine AND culture, you’ll want to have plenty of peppers while in New Mexico. Thankfully, that won’t be a problem, considering these are just 13 of the many ways to eat a New Mexico Chile Pepper.
Green Chile Bagels and Bread
Green Chile goes great in any bread product, so many local folks make tasty green chile bread creations. The most famous are probably the greenish loaves from the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque (also well known for its pizza). You’ll find chile bread at many of the farmer’s markets, but also you can get green chile bagels at most Einstein Bagels in New Mexico!
Red & Green Chile Pistachios
Pistachios are a great snack for road tripping – something you might likely being doing in such a vast state like New Mexico – but they’re also handy for souvenirs to take back home. Don’t miss out on Heart of the Desert‘s yummy red and green chile pistachios, completely with pretty gift wrap (burlap sacks)!
Chile Fudge and Peanut Brittle
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then be sure to visit The Candy Lady in the historic old town of Albuquerque for her tasty, sugary creations – including green chile fudge, green chile peanut brittle, or other combos like vanilla red chile fudge!
The spiciness (heat) of a chili peppe can be measured in what is called a Scoville heat unit (SHU). Bell peppers rank at 0 SHU, New Mexico green chilis are at about 1,500 SHU, jalapeños at 2,500–5,000 SHU, and habaneros at 300,000 SHU. The guiness world record holder is a Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, sliding in at 1,463,700 SHU. That’s some hot peppers!
Green Chile Beer
Of course, brewers are always looking for new ways to infuse flavor and fun into their beers, so why not a New Mexico chile pepper? You can get plenty of green brews in New Mexico, but many say the chile beer fresh on tap (see the chile guy on the tap handle above?) at Eske’s Brew Pub in Taos is one of the best. Goes good with the cheeseburgers, fries, or pizza (see below!).
Red Chile & Chocolate Dessert
The Mayans were the first to discover the powerful effects of chocolate, both emotionally as well as a health boost. And red chile goes great with chocolate – either just as a chocolate bar, or in desserts, like red chile mousee, cakes, and even cup cakes. Cake Fetish Cupcakes in Albuquerque is one of the most well known cupcakes in the state, with their award winning Santa Fe Chocolate (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate with chocolate red chile buttercream) – only available on Fridays!
Green Chile Cheeseburgers
Wow, doesn’t that just LOOK amazing? Plenty of gastropubs and restaurants in New Mexico offer green chile as a default topping for your burger, but would you believe even places like McDonald’s offer green chile burgers? (I suggest the gastropub though, sorry….) And who doesn’t like a good burger on their vacation? Delicious.
Green Chile Pizza
Similar to the burgers, all the national pizza chains offer green chile as an option for your pizza. And actually you can get some very nice pizza here in New Mexico. It’s a good option if you’ve got fussy eaters who you do want to introduce some green pepper into their lives. Peppers go well with onions, sausage, and/or pepperoni.
Red or Green Chile Cheese Fries
After seeing how many restaurants (and bars) offer red AND green chiel cheese fries on their menus, I’m begging to wonder if this tempting treat is New Mexico’s answer to Quebec’s poutine? It definitely sounds like a good enjoy-with-alcohol or anti-hangover cute.
Red or Green Chile Stew
This soup you’ll find in many other countries, but the caldillo a classic New Mexico soup, given that it’s basically a green chile stew with meet and potatoes. Great for a chilly night or restoring some energy after a long day of sightseeing. There’s also a similar New Mexico chile soup called Caldo de Chile. You might also want to sample a hearty red chile beef stew – yum!
There’s a bit of debate on whether, if the state did have an official pepper, would it be red or green. All kidding aside, you’ll probably feel like there are more green peppers, because you’ll eat then fresh, whereas the red is typically used dried.
New Mexico Chiles rellenos
The deep fried, cheese covered chile pepper is a traditional Mexican dish, but don’t overlook having it here in New Mexico, since you’ll know that the chile pepper buried under deliciousness is a fresh, local pepper (rather than a typical poblano pepper).
Green Chile Wine
Oh yes, you can have your chiles in your wine as well! There’s your standard chilled white wine, or you can go for a dessert wine, such as the chocolate infusion shown above (there are several chile wines on the table). Or you can grab a wine to use in cooking, a common theme I hear amongst those chefs versed in New Mexico cuisine.
A New Mexico Enchilada
How could I NOT include New Mexico enchilada in our list? It’s a very, very common item on every menu, from breakfast burritos to evening entrees. To start, New Mexico makes some fantastic tortillas – some blue corn, but they’re just fluffier and tastier than elsewhere. Then of course your enchilada comes covered either red or green chile sauce, always a winner. A common order is with cheese and white onion – with the blue tortilla, it looks great AND tastes great.
Last but certainly not least is a delicious seasonal dish from New Mexico, calabacitas. It’s simply some green chiles (ok, lots of chiles), with zucchini, and fresh corn, all gently sauteed. There are varying extra ingredients added to taste.