When my friend Chichi and I get together to cook, the main ingredient is best described as "parts." That may mean sticky braised pig tails or crisp pig's ear fritters or pasta and broccoli rabe cooked with a pound of cured pork nubbins.
So it's no surprise to me that when Chichi bakes for the holidays, she bakes with pork. Meet biscochitos, little New Mexican lard cookies.
Chichi, who was raised in the state, puts biscochitos thus: "In December, biscochitos comprise maybe thirty percent of the diet of the average New Mexican. It is considered bad form to go to a social gathering or leave one without having brought your own batch and sampled that of your friends and coworkers."
And I can see why. Because these aren't merely sugar cookies that swap out butter for lard. They're enhanced with brandy, which makes for an easy-to-work-with dough that bakes up light and airy as the alcohol burns off. They're seasoned with anise seeds for a heady licorice flavor that's perfect with pork. And they're rolled in cinnamon sugar for a holiday touch.
The result: incredibly delicate and flaky cookies with a sweet, complex aroma and a touch of savoriness. For all the pork fat they're surprisingly subtle. And they turn heads at cookie swaps like nothing else.