Red Hot

By Mike

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.

Kristy mixed the green chile sauce with some rice, corn and black beans, and that looked tasty as well.

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.

Print this recipe: Southwest Ribs and Red Chile Sauce
Print this recipe: Green Chile Sauce

42 thoughts on “Red Hot

  1. Lisa says:

    This looks like a wonderful dish, I’m going to book mark this recipe. I agree with chef dad looks like a great recipe to make for a large crowd. Miss A is too cute, red hot chili peppers was one of my favorite bands in high school. Miss A is pretty cool! πŸ™‚


  2. mjskit says:

    What an excellent southwestern dish! I love the fact that your featured both NM red and green chile! Since you appear to love this type of chile you might want to check out my series on NM chile. ( You might have fun with it. I’ve never cooked spare ribs in red chile sauce but you certainly have inspired me to do so. Great recipe and beautiful dish!


    • ChefDad says:

      Thanks MJ. We didn’t want to do anything with tortillas this time around, so that’s what we came up with. It was good. Maybe something more obviously southwestern next time.


  3. thefooddoctor says:

    I am not one for very hot and spicy but I have to say that finished dish looks so appitizing!
    I loved the fact that Miss A demands the kind of music on the ride to school, I just love the strength of spirit she has


    • ChefDad says:

      I’m surprised by the bands she likes. Her taste is “eclectic” which as far as I can tell simply means “wierd” in common usage. Common requests include Little Richard, Peter Paul and Mary, the Imagination Movers, Journey and Ozzy Osbourne (both the Black Sabbath and solo days). Not sure what the unifying theme is.


  4. Kelly says:

    Oh, that’s hilarious about Miss A and her music – she fractures us… my boys actually ask about her and love hearing about her latest adventures. This dish looks so delicious and I can just imagine how good it smelt while cooking You’re right, pepper selection can be tricky but it sounds like you made the right choices (being able to lick your fingers is always a good thing ;0). Lots of 4 spoons… I think I will have to try this one! I’m certainly no culinary expert but I’m thinking the addition of water might have something to do with consistency – (dilute and then burn off mixture of water and broth rather than merely broth). Love the addition of corn and black beans to the rice – and the cerveza!!


    • ChefDad says:

      (Shhhh…don’t tell anyone–we actually didn’t drink the beer. I had broomball after we cooked. Playoffs–no drinking before playoff games. I will say that I think alcohol would have helped–this would go good with beer or red wine.)


  5. Beth (i run like a girl) says:

    That sounds delicious!
    How sad is it that I’ve driven through New Mexico TWICE and haven’t stopped yet for lunch? I’ve had red and green chile in other southwest locales… but somehow I think I’ve got to go back to NM for the real deal.
    In the meantime, I’ll be trying this recipe!


    • ChefDad says:

      I think the next time we do it, I’ll make a bunch of batches with different kinds of peppers and see which we like the best. It wouldn’t be hard to get two slabs and split it into four pans with four different sauces (changing only the pepper) for an occasion where we’d have more people to cook for than just us.


  6. Charles says:

    Mwahahaha, I hope you like your coffee spicy! You might be enjoying a few cups with a bit of kick for the next few grinds πŸ˜‰ The red chillies looks amazing – once ground it looks rich and red and delicious… though it’s good that the dish didn’t end up being too spicy. I like a nice bit of strength but stuff which makes you feel like your lips are melting aren’t really the most enjoyable of things :/ I knew a girl once from the Szechuan area of China and she said that when eating meals with her family, the only thing you could do was just shovelling food in and just not stop until you were done because if you stopped it became too much to handle! :-s

    Lovely looking ribs, and the green chilli sauce looks wonderful too – I have an overwhelming urge to dip tortillas into it πŸ˜€


    • ChefDad says:

      I cleaned the heck out of that thing when we were done. I was actually more worried about coffee-flavored red chile sauce.

      And yeah–the green chile sauce screamed for tortilla chips. I forgot to pick them up on my way home.


  7. Eva Taylor says:

    I agree with John, it’s better to be less spivey/hot than too much, making the fish in inedible. The red chiili sauce looks amazing; the point of adding water snd reducing is to coaxe more flavour out of them! Nice work, Mike!


  8. ChgoJohn says:

    So, Miss A loves the Peppers! That cracked me up! These ribs look fantastic but I, too, would be leery about trying different peppers. I’d rather say the ribs could be a bit more spicy than be unable to eat the food at all.


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