Chef Essig's Featured Menu Item of the Week

When I travel, I love to explore the area's foods. I feel more connected to a new environment when I have the opportunity to see what is in the markets, what is common on menus, and what the locals consider to be their favorite dishes. On a recent trip to New Mexico, I was surprised to see many items on menus and at markets that we do not find here in Colorado -- even though we are so close.

When we think of our Southern neighbor New Mexico, we typically think of chiles. This time of year especially, as we drive down many of our roads we see New Mexico chilies for sale as the smell permeates the cooling late summer air.

Chiles

Green Chili is a common dish (as well as Red Chili) due to the amount of chiles grown in the state. I learned in New Mexico that "Red Chili" simply means meat with ground chiles. Most rely on the flavor of the chile and do not want to "muddy it up" with other ingredients. In states outside the chile-growing region of New Mexico, Red Chili may entail the addition of beans, peppers, and many other ingredients. This was reported to come from the fact that as cattle herds started off in the chile-growing region, the cowboys would keep their dishes fairly simple and pure by adding only a good amount of dried chile and pure beef. The farther they wandered away from the region, they would have to extend their chili with items such as beans and vegetables using less chile and adding other ingredients.

 

One example of the purity of chiles used in such dishes is Pork Adovada. My first experience with Pork Adovada was at a Restaurant called Mary and Tito's just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. The restaurant has been in business since 1963 -- run by the same owner. Even more impressive than the food was watching the owner Mary, at the age of 87, go up to each table and ask how their meal was. To be in the restaurant business for almost 50 years, you have to be doing something right. And the food was definitely good. It's not surprising that the restaurant was recognized this year by the James Beard Foundation for being an “American Classic.”

My Pork Adovada was "melt in your mouth" tender and had the clean flavor of fresh chiles. For the next few days, I had to try this dish at other establishments to see how it varied. Even though the intensity or spiciness of the dish varied, the fact that it was always simply pork and chile made it one of my favorites for being simple, flavorful, and a great taste of my new environment.

Chiles

I hope you take the chance to come try this dish, as we will be offering it this week on Friday, September 24th during Lunch at Tobey-Kendel Dining Room. Served with rice, beans, and a warm tortilla... it is a definitely a dish that celebrates this time of year when chiles come off the vine, can be smelled in the air, and hopefully end up on your plate!

Join Us for Lunch at Tobey-Kendel Dining Room on Friday!

  • What: Pork Adovada
  • Where: Tobey-Kendel Dining Room
  • Day: Friday, September 24th
  • Meal: Lunch, 11:00am-1:30pm

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Bon Apetit! Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

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