Posts Tagged ‘chile con queso


A New Mexico Christmas

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Ginormous Rib Roasts and Smashed Senatorial Cakes: Favorite Food Memories

This month’s Real Simple has an article from my favorite food blogger from the Washington Post, Kim O’Donnel.  She writes about “10 things cooking has taught me about life” and tells the stories that taught her these life lessons.  I wish I could link to it, but it’s in the hard copy of the magazine only.  Highly recommend checking it out (and it’s a great issue all around — lots of good holiday tips).  This got me thinking about my favorite food-and-cooking related memories.  I don’t have any pithy anecdotes to convey life lessons, but it is fun to think back to good times with food.  These are some of my favorite memories in no particular order, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list:

  • My grandmother Mama Grande buying a rib roast so huge she had to saw it in half to fit it in the oven.  The next time we visited her, did she buy a smaller rib roast?  No, she had installed a humongous industrial size oven.  The look on her face in this photo is priceless.  She prevailed over that rib roast, but it was close.


  • My grandmother Murr’s chicken fried steak.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a piece of steak pounded flat, breaded and fried kind of like fried chicken.  I have lots of fond memories of holidays at her house when she would make this for us with white gravy, slices of white bread and green beans.  What a meal.  I think I need to recreate that at some point in the near future.
  • My mom making homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage links on Christmas morning, always eaten well after we reveled in what Santa brought us for a couple of hours.
  • My dad making chile con queso before having people over at the house.  This is part of the getting-ready ritual, just like cleaning the house.  Only my dad can make this chile con queso with that certain something that makes it addictive.  I can see that old yellow crock pot sitting on the counter with a big bag of tostadas — about half the batch would be devoured by our family before the guests arrived.
  • This Thanksgiving, cooking with my mother-in-law to get food ready to take to the family gathering. I love holiday mornings when everyone is just lounging around relaxing. We did our cooking, a lot of food actually, but it was a really relaxed morning and just fun hanging out time.

So, here’s to fun food memories over the holidays.  I know we will make many more.

PS — Just remembered another funny one, more of a mishap.  When I was a young Senate staffer, my office sent me to pick up the Senator’s birthday cake from the fancy bakery that had iced his grinning mug on the front of the cake.  Well, the box slid off my passenger seat and half the cake and the Senior Senator’s face were smashed in by the time I got it to the office.  WHOOPS.  Talk about mortification.  We used some toothpicks and plastic spoons to perform reconstructive surgery before the guest of honor arrived.  Somehow I survived that one and managed to stay there another seven years.  Good thing the power-that-be had a sense of humor.


Roasted Green Chile

I can’t begin to list all the good things you can make with green chile.  Growing up in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico, the chile capital of the world, there’s not much we ate that didn’t have green chile in it.  Even McDonald’s had a green chile cheeseburger on the menu.  Here in Minnesota I found some nice green chile at the farmer’s market – not sure what variety it is, but it’s mild to medium as far as heat.  After the chile has been roasted, you can either freeze it with the blistered skin still on, or peel and clean it and use it fresh.

To start out, heat up the grill to at least 400 degrees and put the chile on.  When one side is blackened and blistered (3-5 minutes), turn the chile and do the other side.  Continue turning the chile until the entire outside surface is evenly blackened and blistered.

An alternative method for roasting chile is to do it directly over the flame on a gas stove.  This is a more time consuming way to do it unless you just want one or two chiles.

The next step is to remove the chile from grill or flame and plunge into bowl of ice water.  Make sure the chile is totally immersed and leave it in the water for a minute or so.  This loosens the skin for easy peeling.

Soak some old (but clean) kitchen towels in ice water and spread them on a plate.  Wrap the chile in the cold towels when it comes out of the ice water.

If you are freezing the chile for future use, you can leave the skins on to give them a little more protection.  Leaving the skin on until the chile is used also helps it retain a little more of that good smoky roasted flavor.  Make sure the chile is totally cool and pat it dry with a paper towel before putting it in a freezer bag to freeze.

If you want to use the chile fresh, go ahead and peel the skin off and remove the seeds and veins.  If you want to use the chile for chiles rellenos, leave the tops on.  Try to maintain the integrity of the chile – leave it one piece if possible and just pull out the seeds and veins through a slit in the side.  This helps keep the cheese filling inside the chiles rellenos when you are deep frying them. If all you need are green chile strips for cooking, remove the tops and don’t worry about the chile falling apart as you clean it.  WARNING:  Do not touch your eyes while you’re peeling and cleaning the chile!  If you’re dealing with a really hot variety, you might even want to wear surgical gloves.

Chile varies in heat by variety but a good rule of thumb for knowing how hot your chile will be is to check the color of the seeds.  When the seeds are pure whitish-yellow, the chile will tend to be on the milder side for whatever variety you’re using.  If the seeds are tinged with grey, as in the picture above, watch out — these will be hotter.

What do I have in store for this batch of roasted green chile?  I’m thinking some chile con queso, chiles rellenos, zucchini with green chile and cheese, and a new breakfast recipe — Shirred Eggs with Green Chile.

Here are some ideas for what to make with your roasted green chile:

Huevos Rancheros with Hash Browns

Zucchini with Green Chile and Cheese

Shirred Eggs with Green Chile and Cheese

Herbed Chicken Breasts with Tomatillo Salsa and Queso Fresco

Dad’s Quick Chile con Carne

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