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Spring Planning

By Jane Butel  March 7, 2023

Now is a good time for planning the forthcoming months.  With Daylight Savings (I can't believe it is coming so soon) and hopefully much warmer weather, a spring break is a fun idea to plan.  And what could be more fun than a cooking vacation where you get to learn new dishes and enjoy eating them?

I have two weekend classes set for March 24-26 and April 14-16  this spring and one week long class, April 24-29.  And...I am very proud they have been rated as the "best in the US for vacation cooking schools" by "Bon Appetit magazine and Gayot.com.   

The weekend classes are primarily focused on traditional New Mexican favorites that you rarely can get anywhere out of our state,  such as Carne Adobado and Sopaipillas, which have a very Spanish colonial influence.  The earliest settlers reached our state sometime in the 1500's. from the 1500's.  The week long class features more of the  the New Mexican favorites plus famous  Mexican dishes such as the Moles and Tres Leches cake. 

Complete menus are on my website at www.janebutelcooking.com where you can register.   I am placing  all three classes on a spring special discounted price of $150.00 off both weekend classes and $250 off the week long class for the next 10 days.

In my intensive weekend and week long classes, I love sharing the rich history behind the impetus that created the development of the dishes, as well as the great nutritional background of each.  For example, not only is red chile the world's best antioxidant or preservative, but both red and green chile have capsaicin which is one of the very best cancer and heart disease preventatives. 

Corn is often maligned and thought to be fattening, but that is far from the truth.  Did you know that the world population would only be 70% of what it is now, without corn?  And, blue corn dates from very ancient times in New Mexico and it is 100% nutrition---the only food with that claim. 

Other colors or pigments of corn are very nutritious, but the lysine, one of the essential amino acids is  not present in a form that human stomach can benefit from it.   But blue corn has it.  Just for your information, lysine is the fever blister nutrient that prevents them.  By the way corn was first developed in Mexico and the color was white

The history of the dishes is endless, but very interesting.  I have made a life study of researching the history of the ingredients and dishes  prominent in New Mexican and Mezican cooking, which I love sharing. 

Also, I love sharing the techniques of cooking which make cooking so much easier and more fun.  I was fortunate to  have a Mother and Grandmother who both had college degrees in what was known as Home Economics.  And, my Father and Brother studied Agriculture Economics and Milling Engineering.  They all passed on the rich tradition of both the "why" as well as the "how" of cooking.

I hope I have the pleasure of cooking with  you this year.

Following are two traditional recipes-- 


(Deep-Fried Bread) 

Sopaipillas are truly native to New Mexico, originating in Old Town, Albuquerque, over 300 years ago.  These hollow puffs can be served as a bread and torn apart to layer with honey to accompany a spicy Tex-Mex meal.  They are delicious sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar as a dessert or snack and make wonderful “pocket bread” for stuffing with refried beans, chile con carne and sauced for a main dish sandwich. 

Leftover sopaipillas can be frozen in an airtight package for up to 3 months.  Reheat in a foil packet at 350 F for 15 minutes.  Just before serving, open the foil to allow the sopaipillas to dry out on the outside.  These puffs will be better for stuffing than for serving as a bread or dessert.   (We do sell Sopaipilla mix.)

Yield:  4 dozen 

4 cups all-purpose flour                                  

1 teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons salt                                        

1 tablespoon lard or butter

1 package active dry yeast, optional              

     (gives pleasant yeasty aroma and a more elastic texture)

1/4 cup warm water (105-115 F)

1-1/4 cups scalded milk (approximately), cooled to room temperature

Cooking oil for deep frying 

  1. Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening.           
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add this mixture to the cooled, scalded milk, stirring well. (If not using yeast, use 1-1/2 cups milk and omit the ¼ cup water). 
  1. Add about all of the liquid to dry ingredients and work into the dough. Mix dough until it is firm and springy and holds its shape. 
  1. Knead dough thoroughly, for about 5 minutes, until smooth, firm and elastic. Invert the bowl over the kneaded dough and let rest for 10 minutes or until the dough will yield a hole when poked.  Heat a 3 to 4 inch depth of oil to 400 F in a deep fryer. 
  1. Working with one-fourth of the dough at a time, keeping the balance well covered with plastic wrap, roll to ¼-inch thickness or slightly thinner, then cut into triangles or squares; do not reroll any of the dough. Fry the sopaipillas, a few at a time, in the hot fat.  They should puff and become hollow soon after they are immersed in the oil.  If they don’t puff up, keep holding under the surface of the oil with tongs or a spoon, until they do puff.  


(Pork with Red Chile Sauce)

This is one of the best, if not the very best-tasting, pork creations from northern New Mexico.  Traceable back to Conquistador days, this dish has somehow never gained favor outside of New Mexico.  I think it is because crushed caribe chiles are hard to find outside the area.  I always make a full five and one half pound recipe because I like to have lots available for burritos, tacos, and enchiladas, or to serve over or under  rice, beans or eggs.

Yield:  10-12 servings 

1/2 cup crushed caribe chile

1/4 cup ground mild chile

1/4 cup ground hot chile

3 garlic cloves

2 Tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Mexican oregano

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups water

5-1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into ½ inch thick chops (trimmed so as to keep a narrow layer of fat around the edges) 

  1. Process all the ingredients except pork in a blender or food processor. Pour into a flat-bottomed glass baking dish.  Dip each pork chop into the marinade and lay to one side of the baking dish as you coat the rest.  Let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature, periodically spooning chile mixture over the top and turning chops over.  Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  (The pork can be frozen for up to 3 months at this point.) 
  1. In the morning, stir and coat each pork chop with chile sauce. Stir and coat again.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover pan with lid or foil; bake chops, covered for the first 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake 2 to  2-1/2 hours longer, spooning the sauce over chops every 30 minutes.  Let cool. 
  1. Using a sharp knife, remove bones and pull meat apart with your fingers to shred the pork into about 25 cent size pieces—do not finely shred the pork.  Place shredded meat back in the baking dish and stir to coat the meat pieces.  If the sauce in the bottom of the dish is like thin gravy, no need to cover.  If it is thick, stir in water to make a gravy and coat each piece of meat and cover    Bake at least 30 minutes or longer at 250F  to allow the sauce to cook into the  pork.  When done, the meat should be a bright rosy red color and very tender.








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