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Let's Cook Up Yummy Spicy Dishes for Fall

By Jane Butel  September 23, 2021

Happy Fall!  With the days getting cooler, the nights longer--it's a great time to have some fun cooking together in the kitchen.  My classes are designed for just that!  We do observe Covid restrictions and have had no incidents.

Chile cookery is always exciting, because chiles  give us an endorphin reaction or in simple terms,  chilies excite our bodies.  Sound weird?    Well it is not.  Chiles help most every part of us.  From digestion to disease prevention, help with controlling our waistlines, our complexions and more. 

Have you heard of the University of Philipines study on chile  effects on the human body?  It is fantastic.  They learned through studies that if one eats at least 1/2 teaspoon of the hottest chile one can endure at least 2/3 of the time--the incidence of heart disease or cancer are almost totally gone.  Don't fret if you can't handle very hot chiles.  For one thing, the more you eat them, the hotter you wish them. 

Also, women are far more heat sensitive than men.  A study reported in the "Journal of Science"  many years ago found that women  are much more sensitive than men  Some men have as few as 10 heat detective sensors in their palates and some women have as many as 200.  The more heat receptors one has, the less tolerance for heat one has.

Any how, I think knowing of the intense health help when cooking with chilies, it makes  cooking with them even more important.  We have just the ticket for you if you would like to learn more about chile cookery and have fun with like minded  chile enthusiasts.   During the Balloon Fiesta, on Monday, October 4 at 12 noon, we are repeating our ever popular Green Chile Cooking Class with Green Chile Apple Pie and Green Chile  Crusted Quiche plus award winning Green Chile Stews and more.  

On Thursday, October 7, we are having our Tamale Rolling class again where we make 4 kinds of tamales--Traditional Red Chile Beef, Green Chile Chicken, Fresh Green Corn and Dessert Tamales. 

And,  during the last weekend of the Balloon Fiesta , October 8 - 10 we are conducting our award-winning weekend school from Friday, October 8 at 5 PM through Satuday and Sunday at 8:30 AM.  We cover most all of the traditional and some innovative dishes of New Mexico.

I am placing all 3 of these classes on  20% off special until Sunday, September 26.  Register soon to get in on these classes.

Our week long class is coming at the end of October, the 25 - 29.  This class garnered us the "Best in the US" award from "Bon Appetit" magazine.  Here we combine the popular dishes of New Mexico with the favorite regional Mexican and Southwestern recipes.  We make many popular chile dishes such as Chiles en Nogado to Carne Adobado to moles and more...even desserts such as Tres Leches Cake and Cajeta Crepes.

The winners of the International Contest at the State Fair, where I donate the prizes are 3rd place--Mark Lad with a Pomegranate Date Cake, 2nd place--Kitty Glines-Park with Kim Che (mae from her own garden vegetables) and 1st  place went to Dr. Ron Bronitsky with Sacher Torte (made with homemade Apricot Jam).

Here are my two favorite enchilada recipes to kick-start fall dinners.  By the way, green chilies have as much capsaicin per type as red chilies do.


Green Chile Chicken EnchiladaThis recipe is a favorite of visitors to New Mexico—in fact it is often voted the number 1 choice by tourists of our traditional dishes. This is the best sauce recipe—many are not very flavorful as they do not use a roux to develop the flavor.

 Yield: 4 servings

8 white, yellow or blue corn tortillas

Oil for frying or chile water, optional

1 recipe Green Chile Sauce (follows)

3/4 cup 50/50 mixture of grated Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, or to taste

1 medium-size onion, chopped

1/4 cup sour cream

Garni: Caribe chile, coarsely chopped Romaine and red leaf lettuces, 4 tomato wedges for each enchilada

  1. For rolled enchiladas, lightly fry the tortillas in ½ inch of hot oil in a skillet (or dip in chile water or just warm the tortillas). (see instructions below.)
  1. For Flat Enchiladas: Place a spoonful of green chile sauce on the plate, then top with a tortilla followed by sauce, cheese and onion. Repeat once more. Top each enchilada with more sauce, cheese and onion. Heat in a moderate 350 F oven until the cheese melts. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a few grains of caribe. Encircle each enchilada with lettuce and tomato wedges.


For Rolled Enchiladas: Dip the softened tortilla into the sauce and place a strip of each grated cheese and chopped onion down the center. Roll and top with more sauce and cheese. To serve a crowd, place the rolled enchiladas in a large, shallow baking dish, but do not cover with sauce. Just before serving, heat in a moderate 350 F oven. Warm the sauce separately and add just as you are ready to serve. Do not overcook or the enchiladas will be very mushy. Top with additional cheese and reheat until it melts. Add lettuce around edges before serving.


This basic, yet versatile sauce without the chicken can be used to create enchiladas, or pour over chimichangas or burritos. Seafood, beef or beans can be substituted for the chicken.

Yield: 2 cups

1 Tablespoon butter or lard

2/3 cup chopped onion

2 Tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup (or more) chopped green chiles

1 cup cooked chopped chicken

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of ground comino (cumin)

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the flour.
  1. Add the broth. Then add chiles, garlic, salt and comino. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Just before plating the enchiladas, add the chicken and simmer for another 2 mintues, leaving the broth rather thin.

Reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen


This is one of my very favorite dishes, especially when made with blue corn tortillas. A few years ago, everyone lightly fried the tortillas that went into enchiladas, whether they were flat New Mexico—style enchiladas or the rolled variety common elsewhere in the United States and Mexico. (I offer the flat New Mexico style here; but if you prefer rolled enchiladas, see the variation that follows.) However, to reduce calories and fat—and especially to save time—I have been teaching people to make enchiladas with un-fried tortillas. Since the cheese and sauce bubble into the enchiladas while they bake, I don’t think the fried flavor is missed.

It is a popular New Mexico custom to place a soft-fried egg on top of each stack of red enchiladas as soon as it comes out of the oven—I recommend giving it a try.

Yield: 4 as a very hearty meal or 6 as a hearty meal

2 cups  red chile sauce (recipe follows)

8 to 12 white, yellow or blue corn tortillas (6 inch diameter)

1 onion, chopped

About 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese or a combination

1 Tablespoon butter (optional)

4 to 6 eggs (optional)

3 leaves Romaine lettuce, sliced crosswise into ½ inch wide ribbons, for garnish

3 leaves red-leaf lettuce, sliced crosswise into ½ inch wide ribbons, for garnish

2 ripe tomatoes, stemmed and sliced into thin wedges (16 pieces total) for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Place a small spoonful of chili sauce on each of four or six ovenproof dinner plates. Place a tortilla on each chili-spread plate, and top it with some for chili, some onion and a scattering of cheese. Repeat these layers once or twice more (so each stack has 2 or 3 tortillas), ending with a topping of onions, chili and finally, cheese.

3. Place the plates in the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the chili bubbles slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. If you wish to top the enchiladas with fried eggs, just before removing the enchiladas from the oven, place the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter sizzles, crack the eggs, one at a time into the skillet and fry until the whites are firm and the yolks are just beginning to set at the edges, about 4 minutes. If you desire the yolk more done, place a sprinkle of water in the skillet just after the eggs are in it and then cover. The eggs will steam and the white will cook over the yolk.

5. Carefully remove the enchiladas from the oven, and top each with a fried egg, if desired. Garnish each plate, encircling the enchiladas first with the Romaine, then with some red-leaf lettuce. Place four wedges of tomato, each facing the same direction equidistant apart.

Variation: Rolled Chile and Cheese Enchiladas

Pour vegetable oil to a depth of ½ inch in a small skillet or sauté pan and set it over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add a tortilla and lightly fry it until it is golden but still soft, a few seconds per side. Drain the tortilla on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Dip the fried tortillas into the chili to coat about half of each tortilla, and divide half of the cheese and all of the onion among the tortillas, placing the cheese and onion down the center of each. Beginning at the dipped end, roll up the tortillas around the filling and place them, seam side down, on ovenproof plates (2 to a plate) or in an oblong baking dish. Top with the remaining chili and cheese. Place in a preheated 350F oven and bake until the cheese melts, 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish the enchiladas with the lettuces and tomatoes before serving.


This is the basic red chile sauce used to create enchiladas and to serve over burritos, chile rellenos, tamales, and chimichangas. 

Yield:  2-1/2 cups 

2 tablespoons butter, lard or bacon drippings

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup ground mild red chile

1/4 cup ground hot red chile

2 cups beef stock or water

1 garlic clove, crushed

Pinch of ground Mexican oregano

Pinch of ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt (if not using stock)

  1. Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth and slightly golden. 
  1. Remove pan from heat and add ground chiles. Return to heat and gradually stir in stock.  Add garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt, if using, and cook, stirring, about 10 minutes.  Simmer at least 5 more minutes for flavors to blend. 


Sauté 1 pound ground beef, or beef cut in very small cubes.  Omit the shortening, and continue as directed above.  Use for enchiladas. 

Reprinted from Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen.




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