Miss A carpools home from preschool with our neighbor, and in a development that should come as no surprise to regular blog readers, she’s been known to express her opinion about the music selection during the car ride. Her standard
request demand is for the Red Hot Chili Peppers:
She apparently picked this up from Kristy unbeknownst to me. Regardless, we’re off to New Mexico, a state that knows something about chile peppers, for our stateside adventure this week.
In fact, chiles are the subject of The Official New Mexico State Question: Red or Green? The correct answer if you can’t decide is, appropriately enough for the season, “Christmas.”
Our pick for a New Mexico meal featured red chiles most prominently, though the ones we chose were mild. We went with Costillas de Sudoeste–Southwest Spareribs in a red chile sauce. Fear not, though–we made some green chile sauce to go alongside as well.
We began by separating the spareribs into sections, then rubbing them in a mix of garlic, salt, black pepper and oregano combined with some red wine vinegar and olive oil.
The ribs are then left to sit for a while, giving us time to work on the red chile sauce. In most cases, I suspect choosing chiles at the grocery store would be difficult. There are many different varieties and choices, but fortunately they’re organized primarily by geography, so Mr. N and I had no trouble deciding on the “Chiles Nueva Mexico” on our shopping trip.
The first step is to grind the peppers down into a fine powder. We don’t have a kitchen tool that’s made for this, so we went with a coffee grinder. That suited Mr. N just fine.
A package of dried chiles generates about a half a cup of ground powder.
The powder then gets mixed together with canola oil, onion, garlic, vegetable broth, Mexican oregano (we cheated and used the regular Mediterranean oregano), and salt. Now here’s a question for our culinary expert readers, the recipe calls for a cup of water. Why would you add water when you then cook the sauce long enough to reduce it by a third?
I’m not sure what the point of the water was, but the sauce sure looked and smelled good when it was finished.
Kristy meanwhile worked on the green chile sauce. We went with canned green chiles, mostly because I had no good idea how spicy some of the other options at the grocery store were, and it seemed safe.
The green chiles get diced and mixed with canola oil, onions, garlic, chicken stock, and a little bit of flour.
The green chile sauce was set aside….
…while the red chile sauce was dumped over the spareribs and set into the oven.
The ribs smelled fantastic, with the chile smell filling the house, even though these chiles were not very spicy hot. In fact they were quite mild and despite handling them all afternoon, I could still lick my fingers with no consequence.
The ribs baked at 350F for an hour. The finished product looked as good as it smelled.
As for the verdict–this one was a winner. Four spoons from Kristy and I. I could have handled hotter and was expecting hotter when we started, but it didn’t need it, there was plenty of flavor. The execution on the spareribs was spot on as well, they were perfectly done.
As for the kids…Miss A ate up the ribs and even asked for more. Four spoons for her. Mr. N clocked in at 2 1/2 spoons and kind of picked at the ribs. He’s a big fan of black beans though, and really liked the green chile creation.
This one definitely belongs in the rotation for special occasions–it takes a fair bit of time to make, but would make for a good meal to feed a big group. I’d also try it with different peppers to get some different flavors, but I look forward to making this one again.