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New Mexican Dishes for Every Month of the Year

In New Mexico, chile is a sacrament, a blessing of the the tongue. When chile roasts in autumn, we breathe in the spicy promise on every corner, and throughout the year, sprinkle it into many, many dishes. 

Here are some favorite dishes for every month of the year.  

January

Flickr/Bing

Posole: During cold winter days, we need something to warm us. Posole does just that, with the earthy feel of hominy, pork, tomatoes and red or green chile. In New Mexico, New Year's Eve is a time for friends and family to gather, and the traditional meal is posole, a dish that marks the beginning of when days grow longer, leaning toward the light.

Recipe: Posole

February

Flickr/Eugene Kim

Carne Adovada: Nothing keeps the cold at bay quite like a bit of spice in a hearty dish. Carne adovada blends together red chile with simmered pork to create a comfort meal that fills a winter home with a smell that draws everyone to the table. 

Recipe: Carne Adovada

March

Flickr/ifindkarma

Green Chile Stew: This time of year, the winds creep in and build, making us want to button up and stay indoors. Sitting down with a steaming bowl of green chile stew seems to be the perfect anecdote to any windy day. The stew has a lasting heat, the kind that comes in a slow build up that stays and stays.

Recipe: Green Chile Stew

April

Lita Sandoval

Torta de Huevo: Eggs are a spring food because the hens begin laying again, and so the tradition of eating torta de huevo at Lent makes sense. Beaten eggs are mixed with cracker crumbs and fried, then red chile covers it. Torta de Huevo is a traditional Easter dish, but it's good at any time of the year. 

Recipe: Torta de Huevo 

May

Flickr/Liz West

Lamb Adovada: New Mexicans celebrate our patron saint of cooks, San Pasqual, every May 17. New Mexicans keep statues and images of this humble saint on our kitchen counters to help us from burning the biscuits or scalding the gravy. Lamb is traditionally made into spicy dishes in northern New Mexico. 

Recipe: New Mexican Lamb Adovada

June

Flickr/Whitney

Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Soup: When the summer heat comes on, we want to spend less time in the kitchen. Whipping up a quick pot of soup can be just the ticket. In New Mexico, a simple tortilla soup can be made dinner worthy with the addition of leftover chicken, black beans and a bit of green chile. 

Recipe: Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Soup

July

Flickr/Luz

Green Chile Cheeseburger: Nothing says summer like cooking on the grill, and a grilled cheeseburger in New Mexico isn't complete unless it's smothered in green chile. New Mexico takes these meaty bites so seriously, it has a green chile cheeseburger trail that maps out the best places in the state to eat one. 

Recipe: Green Chile Cheeseburger

August

Mama's Kitchen (Hope)

Calabacitas: Luckily, in August, corn ripens the same time as zucchini, so it's easy to make calabacitas. With onion, spices and chopped green chile, it's great as as side dish, wrapped in a tortilla, or with added meat or cheese, transforms into a main meal.

Recipe: Calabacitas con Chile Verde

September

Flickr/eekim

Chile Rellenos: Restaurants in other states think they have this on the menu, but it's usually a poblano chile, not our standard Big Jims, and the sauce is never quite right. Stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried, rellenos are the ultimate tribute to New Mexico's state vegetable. The recipe is just for rellenos, because everyone has their own favorite choice of red, green, or "Christmas."

Recipe: Chile Rellenos

October

Flickr/Angus Fraser

Pumpkin Flan: Any New Mexican restaurant worth its salt either has this traditional custard or natillas on their dessert menu. Poured into custard cups and baked in a hot water bath, flan is upended onto a serving plate and served alone or with whipped cream and fruit. This recipe calls for pumpkin to give it a seasonal flavor.

Recipe: Pumpkin Flan

November

Flickr/Ewan Roberts

Red Enchiladas with Turkey: Enchiladas incorporate just about anything well, whether it's leftover chicken, spinach, or at Thanksgiving season, turkey. Simple ingredients, with some red chile poured on top, transform into a special and satisfying dish.

Recipe: Turkey Enchiladas with Red Chile

December

Flickr/rpavich

Tamales: Try living through the month of December in New Mexico without bumping into one of these. They'll call to you at potlucks and appear at holiday dinners. Between Christmas and New Year's, if you're lucky, you may get invited to help build some at a tamalada. 

Recipe: Shredded Pork Tamales