During my recent trip back to New Mexico I ate rice, beans, and cheese almost every day, and no matter what dish I ordered, there was green or red chile on top. Just about every traditional food at a New Mexican restaurant is served smothered in chile.
Immediately after placing your order, your waitress will most likely ask, "red or green chile?" Indecisive diners can order theirs "Christmas-style" but I've always gone one way or the other. Check out this roundup of some of our favorites, after the jump.
Green vs. Red: Which Is Spicier?
While red chile dishes use pods that have been allowed to mature and dry, green chiles are the immature pods that have been roasted. Oftentimes, restaurants have their own roasters, which are essentially giant cylinders lying horizontally, turned above a heat source for even roasting.
Some say green chile is milder than red, but the degree of spiciness actually depends of the type of chile used—certain varieties are spicier than others. Red chile, some of which is grown down South and in Chimayo, New Mexico, should have an underlying sweetness that cuts through the spiciness.
Which Is Better?
Color aside, what makes a chile dish outstanding is if, during the meal, beads of sweat build around your face while the actual eating of the chile remains painless.
Related: New Mexico Sopaipilla Roundup