With Christmas ads filling the airtime vacated by campaign commercials, the holidays must be upon us. But it doesn't have to be Santa season for a server to ask if you want a Christmas tree. In New Mexico, where folks are even crazier about chile than we are, diners can choose to have their food smothered with green chile, red chile or both (i.e., a Christmas tree).
Here in Denver, green chile gets all the buzz, but red chile has an even deeper, more intriguing flavor, as fruits and vegetables left to reach their fully ripe potential tend to do.
See also: - Curtis Park Creamery serves up Mexican food in endless combinations -- Photos: A closer look at Curtis Park Creamery - Curtis Park Creamery, Squeaky Bean and other names that leave you clueless
I loved the red chile at Curtis Park Creamery, which I reviewed this week, but the owners were understandably hesitant about parting with the details. Fortunately, Charlotte Saenz, longtime instructor of Mexican cooking at the City of Aurora's Kitchen on the Green ), agreed to share a recipe of her own.
For more of this 72-year-old chef's treasured family recipes, sign up for her Santa Fe Cooking class on December 14.
Red Chile Recipe courtesy of Charlotte Saenz
1 red chile ristra, about 15 pods 1 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat 2 tablespoons shortening 2 heaping tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon garlic salt Salt to taste
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Clean about 15 chile pods from a chile ristra, breaking off stems and discarding seeds. Rinse with water and place in a pot. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Take off heat and let sit until chiles turn bright red. Meanwhile, cut pork into 1/2 inch cubes and fry in a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons shortening until brown and thoroughly cooked. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour, stir well, and remove from heat. Place chiles in a blender and add an equal amount of chile juice (if necessary, measure the chiles so you can add just the right amount of liquid). Puree chiles in a blender for 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of puree to pork plus 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick. Add garlic salt and salt to your taste. More chile puree can be added for more chile flavor.