October is National Chili Month! But here in Denver, the only chili that matters is spelled with an "e," and features those hot, hot peppers now being roasted up and down Federal Boulevard. So all this month, chile fans will be weighing in on their favorites around town.
I come from a long line of green chile connoisseurs, all born and bred in Colorado. My great-grandmother Gertrude died before I was born. From what I hear, though, her green chile was to die for. The way my cousins tell it, her recipe won contest after contest back in the day.
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Myself, I’ve been eating green chile since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember. I vividly remember my mom cooking up a fresh batch of chile and fresh batch of tortillas several times a week when I was too little to even see over the kitchen counter. I don’t know if the stuff Mom was cooking came from her grandma’s kitchen or not, but my oh my, was it lethal!
After Dad passed away and as Mom got older, she eventually quit cooking altogether. Thankfully, she passed along her recipe. My wife doesn’t make green chile as much as I would like, though, which has inspired me to get my fill elsewhere -- namely, Santiago’s.
That chile I swear by; it’s as close to Mom’s as I’ve been able to find. Well, until last month, when I stopped by Lucero’s, my cousin’s Tim's restaurant at 104th and Federal. (The original Lucero's & Sons, which my uncle opened more than forty years ago, is still at 37th and Fillmore; there's another one at 5201 Pecos Street).
My cousin Bob tells me that the chile at Lucero's is a variation of great-grandma Gertrude’s. If so, I can see how she won all those contests. -- Dave Herrera