Red alert! Charlotte Saenz's recipe for great red chile

combo chile curtis.jpg
Mark Manger
A combo plate at Curtis Park Creamery -- with a combo of red and green chile.
With Christmas ads filling the airtime vacated by campaign commercials, the holidays must be upon us. But it doesn't have to be Santa season for a server to ask if you want a Christmas tree. In New Mexico, where folks are even crazier about chile than we are, diners can choose to have their food smothered with green chile, red chile or both (i.e., a Christmas tree).

Here in Denver, green chile gets all the buzz, but red chile has an even deeper, more intriguing flavor, as fruits and vegetables left to reach their fully ripe potential tend to do.

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I loved the red chile at Curtis Park Creamery, which I reviewed this week, but the owners were understandably hesitant about parting with the details. Fortunately, Charlotte Saenz, longtime instructor of Mexican cooking at the City of Aurora's Kitchen on the Green ), agreed to share a recipe of her own.

For more of this 72-year-old chef's treasured family recipes, sign up for her Santa Fe Cooking class on December 14.

Red Chile
Recipe courtesy of Charlotte Saenz

1 red chile ristra, about 15 pods
1 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons shortening
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Salt to taste

Clean about 15 chile pods from a chile ristra, breaking off stems and discarding seeds. Rinse with water and place in a pot. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Take off heat and let sit until chiles turn bright red. Meanwhile, cut pork into 1/2 inch cubes and fry in a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons shortening until brown and thoroughly cooked. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour, stir well, and remove from heat. Place chiles in a blender and add an equal amount of chile juice (if necessary, measure the chiles so you can add just the right amount of liquid). Puree chiles in a blender for 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of puree to pork plus 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick. Add garlic salt and salt to your taste. More chile puree can be added for more chile flavor.

Location Info

Curtis Park Creamery

908 30th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

I love New Mexico red (grew up there) - it bears no resemblance to what most folks in El Norte consider to be chili.  It can also be ferociously hot.  If you can't handle green you won't be able to handle the "real deal".  I make my New Mexico red pretty much the same as Charlotte's but why use shortening when you can use lard?  I also cook the lard flour combination until it is a golden brown roux before adding the blended chile mixture.  Cook until thicken and then I cool it and pour it over pork shoulder chunks and marinate it overnight.  Bake it off the next day until the pork is tender and voila - the perfect carne adovada.  That's red chile to me.  Or, you can just use the sauce for enchiladas and burritos.  I'm giving away too many secrets here.

ScubaSteve topcommenter

5-Way Cincinnati chili is still #1.

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