Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup

‘Tis the season for multi-tasking madness! Yes, it’s the time of year to over extend yourself and your credit card. Commit to far too much. Eat and drink yourself silly. Send holiday greetings to friends you haven’t seen or spoken to since you sent them a card last year. Ask yourself why stores insist on playing Christmas music months in advance. Buy your nearest and dearest something they’ll dislike and discard. Then collapse and promise you’ll never do this again.

Or you could turn your phone onto silent. Channel your inner Scrooge. No Christmas cards. No Christmas sweaters. Scowl at those cute carollers who come to your door. Then slip into the kitchen and make yourself a restorative pot of soup.

Accompany said soup with a hefty wedge of bread, some really good butter and a good book. The book, I might add is to read, not eat. Although if you enjoy reading you’re a voracious reader who devours books so maybe you do ‘eat’ them up. I digress…Perhaps something to listen to (not Mariah Carey singing ‘All I Want for Christmas’ for heavens sake). Something classy like Elvis.

Breathe deep and sigh. Do feel smug if this feels appropriate. For soup, you’re spoiled for choice. At our Scrooge Grotto this year, we’ll be serving a Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup. It’s packed full of health-giving goodness (yawn) and is easy to make. Do share with someone if you must or store the rest in the freezer for a cold winter’s day.

Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup

Serves 4

1 butternut Squash, around 1.5-2 lbs.

14 oz. can of beans (garbanzo, black eyed peas, you get the idea)

A hefty handful of cavolo nero (black cabbage), kale or spinach

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 New Mexico red chile pod

1 1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ancho chile powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan over low heat. Saute the onion slowly until soft and translucent. Don’t rush this step folks. While the onion is cooking, peel the squash, slice in half, remove the seeds (you can save them to roast if you’re feeling energetic) and chop into 1/2″ dice.

Add the garlic to the softened onion, saute for another minute then add the spices, including the chile pod. Stir to coat and cook for a minute or two to bring out the flavours of the spices. Add the diced butternut squash and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes then add the stock. Increase the heat to medium (it should be at a low simmer). Cook until the squash is tender — this won’t take long, perhaps 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, wash your greens. If using kale or cavolo nero, strip the leaves from the woody stems and chop. If using spinach, take a break, check your Instagram ‘likes’ and then get back to work.

When the squash is cooked, drain and rinse the beans, add them to the soup along with the greens. Stir, taste and add salt and more chile if desired. Remove the chile pod and serve.

Honey & Chile Chicken Skewers

Summer is racing by at a gallop, as if chased by a slightly/very aggressive Autumn, eager to take its place. But let’s put the brakes on, folks. Let’s wring every last drop out of summer because when it’s gone, it’s gone. Well, at least for another year. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting around the fire, knitting long underwear and searching the web for yet another root vegetable recipe.

Summer is like being a teenager. It’s silly and fun and I bet you dollars to donuts you’ll get your heart broken. But who cares? You’ll love every minute of it. Sure summer is hot. Sure it’s hazy. Sure it’s humid. So deal with it. Embrace it.

Spend every minute you can outdoors. Crank up the BBQ, open up that cheeky rosé you’ve been saving for a rainy day and breath deep. Because Summer won’t last forever. (Cue: Beach Boys song.) And if worse comes to worse, remind yourself that Christmas is only a few months away.

Sorry, scratch that.

Serves 2-3

1 lb. boneless-skinless chicken thighs

2 Tbsp. runny honey

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. tomato puree

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 tsp. Chimayo blend chile powder

½ tsp. New Mexico green chile powder

½ tsp. salt

Note: if you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers don’t forget to soak them in water for a half an hour or so before grilling. You’ll thank me, I promise.

Cut each thigh into about 4 chunks. Place the chicken in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

Heat up your barbecue to medium high. Place the chicken chunks on the skewers and cook on one side until you get some nice grill marks – a few minutes – then turn and cook the other side.

That’s it. You’re done. Eat up. And don’t forget to do the dishes.


Spice rubbed pork shoulder with posole

Ennui. No, it’s not a type of sausage or that tingling pain you get in your legs if you sit for too long. It’s a feeling of listlessness, lethargy and lassitude. A cloud of dissatisfaction that hangs over life. It’s marked by a tendency to gaze out the window and sigh for no reason at all.

Sure, winter doesn’t help. Winter doesn’t help anything unless you’re a hibernating bear or sell ski equipment. We’re fed up, longing for the lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer when we spent our days barbecuing meat, veg, the dog’s chew toy and our boots (the last two, just because we could).

That was life. This is like being forced to watch an Ingmar Bergman movie on repeat.

The solution? There isn’t one. There’s not a pill you can take or mantra you can chant. It just is. The good news? One day it will be gone. Poof! And suddenly you’ll make a tentative foray out of your reclining chair with the chip and dip tray and actually take the garbage out. Respect!

Rub the pork with the spice mix the day before cooking.

But in the meantime, cook large pots of comfort food to see you through your existential crisis. It won’t cure anything but it might – just might – lift your spirits a bit.

Serves 4-6

3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

1-12 oz package of White corn posole

2 Chile pods such as Ancho and New Mexico red

1 large garlic clove

Garnishes: chopped avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, chopped green onions

Mix together the spices, salt, sugar and chile powders and rub on all sides of the pork shoulder. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a container with a lid. Pop in the refrigerator and let it do its thing overnight. Next, place the posole in a non-reactive bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap (if using) and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and put in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 225ºF, cover with a lid and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes away easily.

Spear the garlic with a toothpick so you can find it easily in the cooked posole.

While the pork is cooking, make the posole. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the posole, then simmer for around 2-3 hours. After an hour or so, add the 2 chile pods and the peeled garlic clove. Stick a toothpick through the garlic clove to make it easy to retrieve once cooking is done.

Shred the cooked meat, discarding most of the fat (come on – it’s the best part). Mix with the pan cooking juices and return the oven to high heat and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the posole. Serve a generous ladleful of posole with some of the pulled pork and your choice of garnishes.


A Chile Chicken Salad Ushers in the Year of the Snake

Year of the snake? Gotta say I was hoping for dogs or rabbits—something a bit more cuddly. See, we’ve got loads of snakes here in New Mexico. There’s even a handy guide called New Mexico Snakes Information for New Mexico Homeowners (versus the one for homeowners in New York City, I guess). Turns out there are 46 species of snake in New Mexico but only 8 are poisonous (only?). After I finished the NMSIFNMH (my abbreviation) I did some more research. Turns out that for Chinese New Year, the snake is actually very propitious. It says that in ancient China the belief was that a snake in the house meant no one would ever starve.


So I thought, give the year of the snake a chance. To celebrate Chinese New Year (belatedly) I whipped up a batch of Chinese Chile Chicken Salad. It was inspired by one of the best food writers on Chinese food today. Actually, I’d say the best. Her name is Fuchsia Dunlop – if you like Chinese food, check her out.

She does a great cold chicken dish served with a spicy dressing. I’ve jazzed it up with some chopped almonds, sesame seeds and cucumber but you can do your own riff – toss in some bean sprouts, julienned carrot – go crazy. The real secret – surprise, surprise – is the chile oil. Make your own with chile flakes and all the sudden you’ll be popping it on everything except cereal and dog food.


As for the chicken, I like to poach a whole bird – that way I can get a couple of meals out of it (good in these belt-tightening times plus you can use the poaching liquid to make stock). If that all sounds way too Martha Stewart for you, then use chicken breasts or a store-bought rotisserie chicken.


So a big Chile Trail welcome to the Year of the Snake. I’m sure it’s going to be a good one. And if it’s not, don’t worry. Next year is the Year of the Horse. Yee-haw!

Chile Chinese Chicken Salad

This salad is super crunchy, zesty and flavorful. Add the dressing right before serving so everything stays crisp and fresh.


2-3 servings


5 cups Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1” knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
2 cups shredded chicken


2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seed oil
3 Tbsp chile oil, including both the oil & seeds (recipe below)
2 tsp sugar

Chile Oil

1 ½ cups vegetable oil
½ cup Los Chileros Chile Pequin Crushed


Julienned cucumber
Sesame seeds
Chopped almonds

If possible, make the chile oil the day before (or even earlier). This allows the oil to cool down and for it to take on more of the chile flavor. The oil will keep very happily in your refrigerator indefinitely as long as the chile flakes are completely covered in oil.


To make the chile oil, heat the oil in a saucepan until it is hot but not simmering. While the oil is warming, place the chile flakes in a clean glass jar (an old jam jar will do). When the oil is hot, remove it from the heat and pour into the jar with the chile flakes. The flakes will sizzle slightly. If the oil is too hot, pour in some room temperature oil to reduce the temperature.

Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing including the chile oil and pour over the salad. Toss, serve in bowls and garnish with julienned cucumber, sesame seeds and chopped almonds.

Chile Chorizo Bean Stew

Snow… Children, skiers and cute arctic animals love it. Me? Well after about the first foot or two I lose interest. It’s not that I don’t think it looks nice; it just makes getting from point A to point B a hassle.

But every cloud has a silver lining, saith the Pollyanna of Santa Fe, and so it is with snow. I was thrilled to find a website that calculates how many calories you burn per hour shoveling snow. I promptly filled in the requested fields. Weight? 160 lbs. Height? 72” Age? 40. Before you get excited, these aren’t my stats – I’m far taller, slimmer and younger than that, but I’d thought they’d do.


Anyway, it turns out you can burn 363 calories an hour shoveling snow. They didn’t mention if this includes the hot chocolate, bathroom, and check the e-mail breaks, but I’m sure it must.

So after all that shoveling, you deserve a hearty meal…something substantial to ward off the winter chill. And I have just the thing. It’s my Chile Chorizo Bean Stew. It was inspired by one of my favorite food writers of all time, Claudia Roden. Not only are her recipes magnificent but her writing is also sublime. This one comes from her book Arabesque, A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon. I’ve added chorizo and tomatoes and of course, chile.

A note on chorizo: it’s a term that’s used for both a fresh and a cured pork product. For this recipe, you want fresh or cooking chorizo. I’ve used a Spanish chorizo that is made with pimenton paprika. But if you can’t find fresh chorizo, don’t sweat it – you can use any great quality sausage or kielbasa for this recipe.

Chile Chorizo Bean Stew

The real star here (besides the chile!) is the onion. You need to cook them nice and slowly so they caramelize. They give a hint of sweetness to the dish that is fantastic.


2-3 Servings

1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Chile Molido Powder or more to taste
12 oz. fresh or cooking chorizo (about 5-6 links) or regular sausage
½ tsp Chipotle Chile Powder or more to taste
1-14.5 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes
1-14.5 oz. can butter beans or other beans such as garbanzo beans
2 large handfuls of baby spinach (about 5 oz), washed and drained

Fry the onions slowly in the olive oil in a pan with the lid on. Stir the onions frequently until they are nice browned and caramelized. Add the Chile Molido powder and stir to coat.

While the onions are cooking, slice the chorizo into bite-sized chunks – about 3 slices per link. Cook the slices in a frying pan until they are nicely browned on both sides. Drain off the fat then add the Chipotle Chile Powder and stir to coat. Add the sausages to the onion mixture. Add the plum tomatoes (breaking the tomatoes up with your fingers) and the juice. Drain the beans and add to the stew. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chile Portrait: Ancho Chile

If a Chipotle chile is a can-can dancer—all showy, high kicks, look at me pleeeeze – then Ancho is the quiet man sitting in the corner, nursing a glass of absinthe and smoking a gauloise. You may not notice him at first but trust me, he’s worth a second look. While Chipotle has in-your-face smokiness and Habanero has enough heat to knock your socks off, Ancho has something altogether more subtle but equally appealing.

Let’s start with the basics. Ancho means ‘wide’ and the Ancho starts broad at the top then gently tapers to the bottom—kind of a heart shape. Fresh it’s called Poblano (it’s the chile used in dishes such as chile rellenos). Once a Poblano is dried, it gets the name change and has a deeper dark red – almost black – color and a mild, fruity flavor.

How mild? Okay, let’s talk Scoville. Scoville is a method of measuring chile heat. Developed by a man named Wilbur Scoville back in 1912, it originally used human tasters to measure the heat in a chile (imagine that job). Now we have a high-tech method called High Performance Liquid Chromatography that precisely measures the amount of capsaicin in chile.


Capsaicin is what gives chile heat. Ancho measures about 1,000-1,500 on the Scoville scale. To give you an idea of what that means, a Jalapeno is around 2,500-5,000 and a Scotch bonnet or Habanero is 100,000–350,000+.

But enough science. Just because an Ancho is milder, doesn’t mean it’s a culinary wimp. Far from it. Ancho offers a depth of flavor that is quite amazing. And Ancho is a great team player – pair it with other chiles and it truly shines. That’s why it’s one of the stars of mole – a sauce that comes from Mexico originally. (Actually, there are lots of different moles but many feature Ancho as a key ingredient. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has a great recipe for Roast Pork Loin with Red Chile Peanut Mole and even runs a mole class – one is scheduled in April.)

What else to do with Ancho? The dried pods can be toasted on a dry frying pan, rehydrated with hot water and made into an awesome chile paste that gives a bit of heat—but not too much—and a lovely, warm reddish hue to a dish. Or if you’re feeling a bit Martha, make a jar of our (soon to be) famous Ancho Chile Goat’s Cheese.

And as ever, if you’ve got a recipe with Ancho—or any other chile—send it our way. We’d love to give it pride of place on The Chile Trail.


Ancho Chile Goat’s Cheese

Goat’s cheese + olive oil + ancho chile. It’s quick, it’s simple and boy does it taste good. The key is to let the goat’s cheese marinade in the oil for a day or two so the flavors really develop. But let’s face it – life is short so please feel free to eat immediately. Slather it on a crusty baguette, crumble it onto roasted veg or place a disc on a grilled chicken breast.

6-8 discs of soft goat’s cheese, cut from a log or buy pre-sliced
1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups Olive oil
2-3 Tbsp Ancho chile powder
1 Ancho chile pod, washed and patted dry
1 Chipotle chile pod, washed and patted dry
1 Bay leaf

Take a small, scrupulously clean jar (a 1 pint capacity Kilner or Le Parfait jar is a great choice and looks nice too). Fill it ¾ of the way with olive oil. Place the ancho chile powder on a small plate. Place a disc of goat’s cheese in the ancho chile so it’s lightly coated with chile powder. Flip and repeat on the other side. Gently, place the disc into the jar filled with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining discs. Place the two chile pods and the bay leaf in the jar and top up with olive oil, if needed, so all the ingredients are covered in oil. Close and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Christmas Chile—Red and/or Green?

In New Mexico we’re not that interested in what you do for work. Or if you’re married, single, all-of-the-above, none-of-the-above, or other. The question we’re burning to ask is: Red? Green? Or Christmas? It’s a question that makes for some fiery – excuse the phrase – debates around the dinner table.

Some peacemakers will say there’s no right or wrong answer. There are folks who like red chile, folks who like green and heck, some people like Christmas – a bit of both.

But not everyone is so kumbaya calm. You hear grumblings. They’ll say that people who like Christmas can’t make up their minds. They dither. Vacillate. They’re fence sitters. Others think that Christmas lovers are just gluttons. They want it all and now. They can’t imagine making it through one meal without red and green – so they get ‘em both.

But in this Christmas season is there perhaps a kinder, gentler way to look at the great chile question? I turned to all-knowing, all-consuming Chef Johnny Vee to get his take. “I love that we associate red and green with Christmas so it’s a perfect fit for our state question…Red or Green?”

But surely there’s a right answer and a wrong answer, isn’t there? “I’m like Santa,” said Chef Johnny, who come to think of it does bear an incredible likeness to St. Nick. “I love both especially at this time a year…not on everything but snuck in here and there…warms us up in winter!”

Have you got a favorite? Let us know. In the meantime, remember that blessed are the peacemakers, so here’s a handy recipe for Christmas Chile Corn Bread.

Christmas Chile Cornbread

This is good – very good. Great with a bowl of soup or hearty stew. Yummy alongside a plate of scrambled eggs and it makes a mean stuffing. This is pretty mild but with a bit of a kick. Just ramp up the salsa mix if you want something spicier.


Makes about 10-12 servings

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 ¾ cup whole milk
½ Tbsp Los Chileros Christmas Salsa Mix (or more to taste)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
¼ cup corn, canned or frozen
¼ pine nuts (optional but very tasty)
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F and grease an 8×12” baking dish.

Pour the milk into a measuring cup and add the Christmas salsa mix, giving it a good stir. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together then add the eggs and sour cream or crème fraiche and mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together then stir in the corn meal. Add the milk and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg/sour cream mix, alternating between dry and milk. Mix in the corn, nuts and cheese.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving if you can bear to wait.


Travel Notes: Santa Fe Top Picks

The Chile Trail is back home in Santa Fe this week. And what better guide to all things foodie than C. Whitney-Ward. She moved to Santa Fe eight years ago (she already had the cowboy boots and the pawn jewelry) and with the addition of a few vintage fringed jackets she settled right in. Originally from Boston, she worked back east as a journalist, food editor/stylist and PR Director of the Four Seasons Hotel, Boston. She created Chasing Santa Fe two years ago and has been photographing and celebrating Santa Fe ever since. She now gets more than 9,000 hits a month and will be opening a Chasing e-store in January showcasing Santa Fe artists’ work. Check her out at www.chasingsantafe.blogspot.com.

“Chasing Santa Fe” Restaurant Picks

Whenever I meet someone new in Santa Fe the first thing they ask me is “What’s your favorite restaurant.” The answer can be daunting because I have my favorites for atmosphere, desserts, breakfast, afternoon tea/coffee, lunch and dinner; and I keep adding new favorites. But, here goes…

CHEZ MAMOU, a French bakery and cafe, opened a month ago and what a delight! It’s quite charming and when you step inside, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a cafe on the Left Bank. Sun pours through the large front window and delightful seating vignettes beg you to sit and enjoy breakfast, lunch or a late afternoon coffee and pastry. I loved the Eggs Benedict, Butterfly Palmiers and the amazing Meringue with Ganache. (CHEZ MAMOU, 317 E. Palace, next to Noëlla Jewelry, Santa Fe, 505-216-1845)
Chasing Santa Fe

THE BEESTRO is a nifty and delicious curbside take-out eatery on Marcy Street—next to the Design Warehouse. Owner/Chef Greg Menke opened The Beestro in October and whips up dazzling entrée salads, cold and hot sandwiches, hearty soups that you can order and drive by to pick up. The menu changes daily and everything is fresh, locally sourced and delicious. I love the Ruben Panini and the Lamb Salad.  (THE BEESTRO, 101 W. Marcy Street, Santa Fe, 505.629.8786, or check the daily menu at www.thebeestro.com)

Chasing Santa FeRESTAURANT MARTIN: I had lunch the other day at this lovely restaurant. It was delicious, but dessert was even more wonderful. Owner/Chef Martin Rios does all his own pasty and what was presented at table—a Hazlenut/Chocolate Pot de Crème—was pure theatre for the taste buds. There were bit-sized pistachio daquoise; caramel bananas, milk chocolate and Earl Grey tea ice cream; paper thin chocolate meringue wafers; and lovely fruit and herb purees. (RESTAURANT MARTIN, 526 Galisteo St., Santa Fe, 505-820-0919, www.restaurantmartinsantafe.com)

Chasing Santa Fe

JINJA BAR AND BISTRO: a chick Pan Asian restaurant is a favorite both for the food and crisp and friendly service. I’m a creature of habit and seem to order the same thing for lunch every time I visit—Lettuce Wraps, Tempura Shrimp and Vietnamese Spring Rolls—but they’re wonderful as is everything else on the menu. Their warm Chocolate Silk Cake with Caramel Sauce is amazing… (JINJA BAR & BISTRO, 510 N. Guadalupe, Santa Fe, 505.982.4321, www.jinjabistro.com)

Chasing Santa Fe

And, if you have a hankering for wonderful Brioche French Toast, LA PLAZUELA at La Fonda Hotel serves up the best! Santa Fe’s legendary CAFE PASQUAL’S has fifty million wonderful things on their menu, but their Mexican Hot Chocolate is the perfect way to begin the day.

Chasing Santa Fe

One of my favorite hangouts is CLAFOUTIS. I love their pastries, especially their Lemon Cake and Sugar Brioche, and every Saturday morning they have divine Beignets.

Chasing Santa Fe

And my latest favorite—PICCOLINO—an off-the-beaten-path Italian dine-in and take-out restaurant on Agua Fria St. The menu is huge—wonderful veal, seafood, chicken, and pasta dishes. But if you have a hankering for Italian with a New Mexico twist, I suggest the “Pasta Polloco”—sautéed chicken, red crushed pepper, garlic, butter parmesan cheese, cream, and green chile. Sensational!

Chile Portrait: Chipotle


Or who figured out how to make flour? Or – hats off – the person who decided that pressing olives might be a good idea? Well, add to that list of unsung culinary heroes whoever decided to smoke and dry a jalapeño chile pepper.

Because the result is the chipotle chile. The word chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli and translates into chile + smoke. It’s been the method for preserving thick-skinned jalapeños in Mexico for who knows how long. Sure, it’s a practical way of preserving them but it’s a lot more than that – it’s a way to transform the flavor that is nothing short of magical.

To get a better idea of what makes a chipotle so special we spoke to Edward Ogaz of Seco Spices. Edward’s family has been farming in Hatch, New Mexico for three generations and he and his wife have owned Seco since the late ‘90’s.

Edward is incredibly passionate about all things chile but he really lights up when he talks about chipotle. “We let the jalapeños ripen on the vine until they’re red. Then we pick them, clean them and lay them out on large mesh racks. Then we smoke them with wood smoke – we like mesquite or sometimes oak.”

We asked if he smokes the jalapeño first or dries it. The answer? Both. The jalapeño is smoked and dried at the same time. In all it takes between 12 to 18 hours of slow delicate smoking and drying. During that time, the chile loses moisture and the color depends to a deep burgundy almost black color. The flavor intensifies too, as it takes on a distinctive smokiness. You’ll read comparisons to dried fruit, chocolate with hints of sweetness. We just think it tastes awesome.

“If you’ve got, say, 6 or 7 pounds of jalapeño to start off with, you’ll end up with only about 1 pound of chipotle at the end,” says Edward. It’s a seriously labor intensive process but Edward won’t cut corners. “You’ll find chipotle out there now where they’ve injected it with smoke flavoring but it’s nothing like the real thing.”

So what do you do with this wrinkly guy? You’ll find chipotle available in powder, whole chiles, or canned in adobo sauce (a piquant sauce made with tomatoes and vinegar). Chipotle is great in salsas, stews, and soups. You can also make a mean barbeque sauce with chipotle. It’s lovely made into a glaze with butter and sugar for toasted nuts.

Chipotle’s got some heat but it’s not OTT and the complexity of the chile flavor married with the smokiness is out of this world. Who knew that something so wrinkled could be so lip-your-lips gorgeous?


Let’s face it, the world would be a kinder, gentler place if everyone ate more Mac ‘n Cheese.  It’s a happy food that just makes you feel so gosh darn good. Now the good is great thanks to a dash (or two) of chipotle chile powder. The chipotle gives it a smoky lusciousness that is sublime. Do not blame us if you eat it all yourself.

Serves 3-4

½ pound penne pasta
2 cups milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ tsp Chipotle Chile Powder, or more to taste
Salt to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove garlic finely chopped
¼ tsp Chipotle Chile Powder, or more to taste
1 cup coarse bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

To make the breadcrumbs, heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic, chipotle chile powder and breadcrumbs, stirring until the crumbs are golden brown. Season lightly with salt and set aside.

For the pasta, add the penne to a pot of salted, boiling water. While the pasta is cooking make your cheese sauce.  Heat the milk in a pan on the stove or in the microwave until it is hot but not boiling. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour and whisk over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not brown or burn the flour. Add the milk slowly to the flour and butter mixture, stirring with a whisk and ensuring no lumps form. Add the chipotle chile powder, season with salt, and continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Add the grated cheese and stir to melt. Drain the penne – do not overcook, it should be al dente. Combine the penne with the cheese sauce and ensure the pasta is well coated.

Butter a flameproof baking dish and fill it with the penne and sauce.  Top with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven until hot, about 20-25 minutes.

Foodie Friends: Johnny Vee

There’s something of the devil about Chef Johnny Vee. Just look at those impish eyebrows, that devilish goatee and the glint—yes the glint—in his eyes. Over the top? Maybe. But ask anyone who’s taken a class with him at Las Cosas Cooking School in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I’ll bet they’ll agree.

Why? Because Johnny’s got a real passion for cooking. Sure he teaches classes like “Cut the Fat-Cut the Sugar-Cut the Carbs” but what’s he really saying? Add the butter, stir in the sugar and make mine a triple tortilla please. Food for him is about pleasure, enjoyment and above all else – fun. He’s been teaching at Las Cosas since 1999 and he’s put it on the map as the must-go destination for locals and tourists alike.

“I’d say we attract about 70% locals and about 30% tourists,” he told me during a rare break from teaching. The school is located in the Las Cosas Cooking Shop, a treasure-trove for the foodie-minded, about a mile from the downtown Plaza.

“When I started, most cooking schools only did demonstrations where you sat and watched the teacher. I disagreed. I like hands-on where the students do the cooking. It’s the best way to learn and definitely more fun.” Today he hosts classes that run the gamut from homegrown creations such as “New Mexico Favorites” to the far flung like “North Indian Street Food”.

One thing students never get tired of is chile. “In New Mexico, we don’t think of chile as a spice. Chile is the thing. So when you’re making chile sauce it’s not seasoned with chile, it is chile.” Are there misconceptions about chile? Absolutely. “People who haven’t eaten a lot of chile think it’s all hot. But there are levels of heat and heat shouldn’t be all that you get because then you’re knocking your taste buds out.”

Before taking Santa Fe by storm, Chef Johnny Vee (short for Vollertsen) worked for top restaurants in New York City and launched a bunch of places in Australia, some with a southwestern theme. It was a move that would eventually take him to Santa Fe. Now he’s here full time and just launched his first cook book, Cooking with Johnny Vee. It’s packed with loads of his favorites (check out the Eggplant Adovada—a vegetarian take on a southwestern classic) and a devilish good time (sorry, couldn’t resist).

And drumroll please! One lucky person will win a signed copy of Cooking with Johnny Vee! To enter, just answer this question:

What is Chef Johnny’s full last name?

Email answers to sales@loschileros.com by November 7th. Include your full name and address. We’ll pick one winner randomly from everyone who writes in. The winner will be announced next Friday in The Chile Trail. And if you don’t win, don’t sulk. You can buy a copy and Johnny will sign it for you (what a nice boy!). Just email him at: chefjohnnyee@aol.com.

Chef Johnny was kind enough to share his fabulous Quick Cured Smoked Salmon recipe. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“The Swedes knew that curing salmon in a mixture of sugar and course salt, not only preserved the prized fish but by adding sprigs of dill to the curing process, the fish was delicious thin-sliced. I gave the traditional cure mixture a Santa Fe spin by adding Caribe Chile flakes that give it a kick and by using brown sugar instead of white which gives it an almost barbecue flavor when the fish is smoked. If you don’t smoke the salmon, leave the cure on for 3 days and then slice it and serve as gravlax.”


(For 2 pounds of salmon.)

1/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons Los Chileros Red Caribe Chile
fresh ground pepper
2 pounds of fresh salmon, whole sides

1. Check salmon for pin bones and remove with needle-nose pliers or tweezers.

2. In a large, non-reactive, oblong pan, mix salt and sugar until well blended and spread it out into a shape that will facilitate the most contact to the salmon flesh. Sprinkle Caribe Chile over salt/sugar mixture.

3. Season salmon with fresh ground pepper and lay it flesh side down, onto prepared cure mixture.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and place a similarly sized pan directly onto salmon. Weigh down pan with canned goods or brick and refrigerate for 24 hours.

5. Remove salmon from the marinade and gently scrape of a majority of the marinade.

6. Prepare the smoker and smoke salmon for 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh*, in a smoker using a mild wood (alder, apple, pecan, cherry).

7. Serve at room temperature with Hot Mustard Sauce.

8. Alternatively Salmon can be grilled over prepared fire. Place flesh side down and grill for 4 minutes then flip and finish skin side down. Grill until flesh comes away from the skin easily. Serve with Mustard Sauce.

*8 minutes for salmon that is up to 1 inch thick
10 minutes for up to 2 inches thick
12 minutes for thicker than 2 inches


1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup hot mustard, any style such as Chinese or Wasabi,
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 scallion, root end removed, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and chill for one hour.