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TacosNew Mexican cuisine is based on native ingredients like corn, beans, squash and chiles, and incorporates Mexican, Native American and Spanish flavors - but chile, whether red or green, is always the most important element. In fact, our official state question is "Red or green?" Both types of chile can be instantly addictive, as you'll find out when you try these Southwestern cooking recipes to spice up your next dinner. Remember, the New Mexico red or green chile sauce recipe can make even the most mundane meal quite remarkable!


Burrito Express

Burritos are the ultimate hearty meal on the go. Typically they are made with a flour tortilla, filled with meat, beans, cheese, salsa, or a combination of these, and rolled. When not served "to go" they are often served smothered with chile sauce and melted cheese.  

  • 1/2 lbs meat of your choice (vegetarians can use rice or beans)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups or 1 16 oz jar of green chile sauce
Warm up green chile sauce. Add meat, green chile sauce and cheese on warm tortilla and roll up. 
Makes 4 burritos. 
Recipe courtesy of El Pinto


Fiesta Tacos

A Southwestern staple, the taco is made with a corn tortilla fried into a crescent shape and filled with meats, cheese or beans, and fresh chopped lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheese.  

  • 2 lbs ground beef or chicken
  • 2 cups or 1 16 oz jar green chile sauce
  • 6 flour, corn or hard shell tortillas
  • 2/3 cup grated cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Cook ground beef or chicken and strain. Add green chile sauce and simmer on medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Add meat to soft flour, corn or hard shell tortillas. Top with grated cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions and sour cream.
Makes 6 servings. 

Recipe courtesy of El Pinto

Green Chile Enchiladas

These tasty flat or rolled treats are made with corn tortillas filled with chicken meat, and/or cheese, and either rolled or stacked and covered with chile sauce and cheese.  Enchiladas are easy to make and always hit the spot! 

  • 1/2 lbs meat (chicken, pork or beef) chopped, shredded or ground
  • 2 cups or 1 16 oz jar green chile sauce (Try New Mexico green chile sauce recipe)
  • 1 dozen 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly fry corn tortilla in hot oil (steam for low-fat option). Put tortillas on paper towel to drain excess oil. Place tortilla on dinner plate, add preheated green chile, cooked meat and cheddar cheese (lightly sprinkled). Add another tortilla and build two more layers. Top with green chile, sprinkle more cheese on top. Place in preheated oven broiler until cheese is melted (approximately 5 minutes). Garnish with sour cream and serve.
Makes 4 servings. 
Recipe courtesy of El Pinto

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce Recipe

Chile is a sauce made from red or green chiles and served hot over many New Mexican dishes. Chile does not use vinegar, unlike most salsas, picantes and other hot sauces. This basic, yet versatile sauce can be used to create enchiladas, or pour over chimichangas, tacos or burritos. 

  • 1 tablespoon butter or lard
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (or more) chopped green chiles
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of ground cumin
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the flour. Add the broth.
Then add chiles, garlic, salt and cumin. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Makes 2 cups.
Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen,

New Mexico Red Chile Sauce Recipe

This version of New Mexico’s famous red chile sauce is from the ABQ Cuisine Expert, Gwyneth Doland. Mixed with shredded pork, it is used as a tamale filling, but all by itself it is also ladled over tamales as well as enchiladas, huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, stuffed sopaipillas, chiles rellenos, and almost anything else you can think of. You may not need 4 cups of the sauce for your recipe, but you might as well make the whole batch; freeze extra portions in small re-sealable plastic containers for later use.

  • 24 dried red New Mexico chiles
  • 4 cups beef stock, chicken stock, or water
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease, lard, or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • Salt
  • Honey (optional)
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles on both sides (you’ll have to do this in batches) until they soften slightly and become aromatic. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds.

Transfer the chiles to a deep saucepan and pour the stock or water over them. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the chiles to rest, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the chiles with their soaking liquid.

In the cast-iron skillet, over medium heat, melt the bacon grease or lard, or heat the oil. Add the garlic, and flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture becomes golden. Add the pureed chiles, and stir quickly while the sauce bubbles and spatters. Reduce the heat, add the oregano, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. If the sauce is a little bitter, mellow it with about a teaspoon of honey, to taste.
Makes about 4 cups.
Recipe courtesy of ABQ Cuisine Expert: Gwyneth Doland, 

Pork and Red Chile Tamales

Tamales: Southwestern Cooking Recipes from New Mexico tah-MAH-less

Nothing says holidays to many New Mexicans like a warm tamale. Unwrapping the tamale is like unwrapping a little present. Tamales consist of a cornmeal dough made from hominy (called masa) and are usually filled with sweet or savory filling, wrapped in corn husks and steamed until firm. Tamales were one of the staples found by the Spanish when they first arrived in Mexico. Tamales are very time intensive and often made in large batches for special occasions with many people in a family or community participating in the tradition.

These pork and red chile tamales from ABQ Cuisine Expert Gwyneth Doland's cookbook "Tantalizing Tamales" are some of the most common tamales in the Southwest. They can be found in restaurants, cafés, and in coolers toted by strolling vendors. Everybody loves them, so make a bunch and freeze any leftovers. This recipe makes enough pork filling to make another batch of tamales, but you can always just use the extra pork for burritos or freeze it for later use.

  • 2½ pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water
  • 4 cups red chile sauce
  • About 2 pounds of masa
  • At least 36 softened corn husks, plus 36 strips for tying
Arrange the pork butt in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt. Add enough cold water to cover by several inches. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 2 hours.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and allow it to rest 20 minutes. Using two forks, shred the meat. In a bowl, combine 2 cups of the shredded pork with enough New Mexico red chile sauce to thoroughly moisten the meat. To assemble the tamales, spread about ½ cup masa onto the center of each corn husk. Spoon some of the shredded pork filling down the center of the dough. Fold and tie the tamale; repeat with the remaining ingredients and husks.

Steam the tamales for 1 hour and serve slathered with the remaining New Mexico red chile sauce.

Makes about 24 tamales.

Recipe courtesy of ABQ Cuisine Expert: Gwyneth Doland, 

Chile-Seared Salmon with Sweet Pear Pineapple Salsa

Chiles love salmon-they add just the right accent to flavor the salmon to its greatest dimension. Fruity salsa, spiked with chiles, adds just the right complement.

  • 1 tbsp ground mild red chile
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 pound fresh salmon filet, deboned
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
  • 1 cup Sweet Pear Pineapple Salsa (See Appetizers section for recipe)
In a small bowl, combine the chile, sugar and salt. Cut the salmon into two pieces. Rinse, then pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the chile mixture evenly over the salmon. Sprinkle salt in a heavy seasoned skillet (or an unseasoned skillet to which you have added the oil). Place over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté the salmon for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until crisp and brown on the outside and still moist and bright pink on the inside. Serve on a pool of salsa.
Makes 2 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen,

Red vs. Green Chile

Chile comes in two varieties depending on the stage of ripeness in which they were picked. The long, narrow green chiles are served freshly roasted and peeled. Most commonly, green chile is made into a spicy sauce that’s ladled over many foods. Red chiles are left on the plants to ripen to a deep garnet color and strung in ristras to dry. After drying, the chiles are ground into a powder. These dried red chiles are rehydrated and pureed into a smooth sauce to flavor many foods.  
Find more delicious New Mexico cooking recipes!