I mentioned that my friend Roman was in town in my other piece, so we won’t dig too much into it here, but he, being from Ohio, has never understood our deep fascination with green chile on everything. In some ways, I agree. I never judge anyone for their deep passion for it, but it’s honestly not something I feel the need to have constantly. But, in honor of his farewell back to Ohio, land of ranch dressing, I thought we could discuss some of the more … creative uses for green chile. It’s got a versatility to it you so rarely see stretched to its limit and so I scoured the darkest corners of forgotten tombs within the state to find unique uses for green chile that you might have missed.
Hear me out, because I also recoiled a touch at this. One of our state’s best kept secrets is Pie Town, which is arguably the most accurately named town in the entire United States. My few trips through there have always resulted in a good hour and a half-long pit stop to just fill up on pie, and Pie-O-Neer’s New Mexico apple with green chile and pine nuts is honestly a surprise favorite. There’s a certain magic to the earthy heated tones meshing with that cool sweetness of apple pie. Is Pie Town worth the five-hour round trip? If you’ve never been, I say yes. If you’ve already been, then you know that the answer is also yes.
This isn’t necessarily the weirdest thing on this list because let’s be honest, who here hasn’t tried to make their own flavored vodka before? There was a particularly horrible batch of Skittles vodka I made in college that still haunts me to this day, a reminder that straining out sugar and other bits is the important part of making your own flavored vodka. Green chile vodka is much easier, requiring only a sealable container, roasted green chile (it better be from Hatch!) and, of course, your vodka of choice. Seal it all up (usually enough vodka to completely cover and rise above however much green chile you’re putting in with it), put it away for two weeks (or longer, if you prefer a more robust taste to your vodka) and then, and I cannot stress this enough: Strain it. Use it in Bloody Mary’s, to surprise friends during shots or just because you love it so much.
I may or may not have a secret family recipe for meatballs that was brought to America by my Italian grandmother and if she ever found out I tried putting green chile in them, a wooden spoon would fly at my face so quickly that I’d need a bag of frozen chile afterward, to keep the swelling down. While I won’t divulge the recipe (that’s our little secret) I will say that pretty much any meatball recipe you have or can find will work. The magic of that extra heat with your traditional Italian spices and herbs gives it the oomph it needs to be a better winter warmer and also adds a new layer to pasta dishes. Don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself. Just please don’t tell my Grandma!
Look, we both knew this list was going to be a little strange going in, so don’t stare down at this paper in disgust until you hear me out. Green chile is known for the unique flavor profile with that crisp, slightly sweet, semi-smoky taste. Sorbet, with its delicate flavor profile allowing fruitier tones to the forefront, gives green chile space to exist in harmony with other flavor profiles. You can try and make it stand-alone by freezing the chile, pureeing it and voila! I’ve found one mixture was genuinely surprising due to some really subtle pockets of flavor from both sides coming through, and that mixture was mango and green chile. I know that sounds insane. Maybe it is. But you have to try it. It’s just that damn good.
There you go. Holidays are coming up, and whether you leave for destinations out of state or have family coming to visit you here, use these to make a little bit of New Mexico happen for those you love who are least expecting it. You’ll be the talk of the get-together!