New Mexican cuisine has its own particular style. It is not Mexican. It is not Mexican-American. And it is most definitely not Tex-Mex. It is true to the Southwestern Spirit of New Mexico’s rich cultural heritage: American Cowboy, Native American, Spanish Colonial, and post-Columbian Mexican.
The Chiricahua, Comanche, Mescalero, and Navajo influence on New Mexican food is expressed through the use of piñones, corn, chile, beans, and squash.
The use of wheat, rice, and lamb were introduced to the Southwestern Cuisine by the Spaniards. Arroz con leche, atole, bizcochitos, calabacitas, and flan are some of the Spanish dishes that have come to enrich New Mexican traditions.
Another example of cultural influence in New Mexican cooking is the Puebloan Horno; a mud adobe-built outdoor oven. Originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, it was quickly adopted and carried to all Spanish-occupied lands. The Puebloan Horno was used by Native Americans and early settlers of North America, and became an authentic tradition in the Southwest.
The most iconic characteristic of true New Mexican Cuisine is the use of Hatch Chile, which is not the same as the serrano chile used in Mexican Cuisine. Within our local food landscape you will find green chile cheeseburgers, green chile cornbread, and even more creative dishes like green chile sundaes.
So, what should you be looking for when you are in search of a true, authentic experience of the southwest?
- Bizcochitos (The Official New Mexican Cookie)
- Carne adovada (slow-cooked cubes of pork marinated in red chile sauce, oregano, and garlic)
- Green chile stew (stew of meat and green chile)
- Navajo Tacos (a taco made with fry bread instead of a tortilla)
- Sopapillas (fried pastry dough typically used as an edible scoop for salsas and sauces)
- Albondigas (meatball soup)
- Chiles Rellenos (whole green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried)
- Enchiladas (corn tortillas filled with chicken, meat or cheese, rolled or stacked and covered with chile sauce and cheese)
- Flan (caramel custard)
- Tamales (meat rolled in cornmeal dough and wrapped in corn husks)
- Indian fry bread (a traditional thick flatbread of deep-fried dough)