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Red or Green?

Cathy Lea.
The state question of New Mexico is - Red or Green? What does this mean? Why, chile sauce of course. There are two types of chile served in New Mexico, red chile and green chile.

Green chile is made from the Anaheim style chiles grown throughout New Mexico. The most famous green chile is grown in Hatch, New Mexico in the southern part of the state. The green chile sauce will vary depending on who makes it, but it usually contains green chiles that have been roasted and peeled, garlic, pork, onions, and stock or broth (pork or chicken). This spicy dish is served over almost any type of New Mexican food including burritos, enchiladas and tamales. It is also made into a stew with large chunks of pork and potatoes. One ingredient you will not find in New Mexican green chile is tomatoes. That is strictly a Tex-Mex or Colorado version of green chile.

Red chile is made from dried red chiles. The chiles are green when they become ripe and the longer they are left on the plant the more red they become. They are dried in the sun and then ground into a powder or left whole, often strung into a ristra. Red chile sauce is made from red chile powder or a paste made from a rehydrated red chile. It may contain onions, oregano or other spices but it is often just the rehydrated chile.

Which is hotter? It depends on many things, each chile harvest is different. When you order a dish with red or green chile ask the wait staff which is hotter. If you want to try both you can order the dish Christmas which means half red and half green chile sauce, that is my favorite. If you get a bite that is too hot be sure not to drink water, that only makes it worse. Eat a bite of tortilla or a spoonful of sour cream or sugar. That helps take the heat away.

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