On Nutrition: More on New Mexican food

Tribune Content Agency

A recent column about my recent trip to New Mexico brought lots of feedback.

Jay. D writes: “It’s embarrassing that you are from New Mexico, and are a dietitian and nutritionist (and apparently a columnist) and yet you do not know the difference between Chile (which is a country in South America) and chili (which is a spicy food, or a type of pepper).”

It is a bit confusing, Jay. As stated on the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University’s website: “The spelling of the word ‘chile’ has a long and varied history. Chile comes from the term chilli that comes from the Aztec, Nahuatl language. The Spanish spelling was later changed to chile by Spanish-speaking Mexicans and chili in the United States.”

The Associated Press Stylebook, a reference guide used by U.S. newsrooms, specifies that the “chile” spelling is used in reference to spicy peppers, whereas “chili” is correct for the stew with meat, beans, tomatoes and chile powder.

After I noted that I make enchiladas when it rains, Karen P. writes: “I just finished reading your delightful article about New Mexico. Having never been there myself, it was a fun and informative read! And now it’s time to make enchiladas! It’s not raining here in Santa Cruz, California, but delightful fog (close enough).”

Having lived close to Santa Cruz myself, Karen, I’d say fog is as good as rain for enchiladas!

Elise S. asks: “You mentioned making enchiladas; do you have a recipe that is not a family secret, that you are willing to share?”

No family secret, Elise, but I have adjusted my mom’s recipe over the years. She used traditional blue corn tortillas dipped in hot oil before stacking them. (New Mexico enchiladas are stacked, not rolled.) I use regular corn tortillas and dip them in the enchilada sauce instead.

She stacked individual portions topped with a fried egg on each plate (like you’ll find in New Mexican restaurants). I make mine casserole-style and skip the egg. This will feed a crowd.



8-12 corn tortillas (or traditional blue corn if you prefer)

1 pound ground beef or shredded chicken

1/2 medium onion, minced

2 (16-ounce) jars 505 Enchilada sauce or other brands made with Hatch Valley chiles (green or red)

8 ounces grated cheese such as cheddar, Colby or Monterey Jack

Cook onion and chicken or beef in a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Add enchilada sauce and heat thoroughly. Add about 1/3 of the meat sauce to the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Dip tortillas in the hot sauce and place side by side on top of the meat mixture. Spoon another 1/3 of the meat sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat the tortilla, sauce and cheese layer, ending with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Find more New Mexico recipes at https://www.newmexico.org/things-to-do/cuisine/recipes.