If you travel around New Mexico during harvest time you are bound to see ristras (strings) of red chiles hanging outside to dry in the hot sunshine. Down in Mesilla, south of Las Cruces, we saw them spread out on rooftops and up north in Chimayo they were hanging everywhere.
You can buy fresh green chiles in the summertime and the dried red ones later in the fall. They both come from the same plant—the red ones have just been allowed to ripen longer on the plant before being dried. They have an earthier flavor to me. When I grew my own chiles in Las Cruces, I couldn’t get over how many wonderful chile colors could be found on a single plant—the greens at first, and then as the chiles ripened they ranged through yellow and orange to red.
We make a very simple version of Carne Adovada at our house. We brown pork strips with onions and garlic, then simmer all in red chile sauce (below) until the pork is tender and well done. I know that traditional versions call for a long marinating period, but the kind we make is absolutely delicious.
For some good basics to get you started, see Chile Colorado (Red Chile).
Visit the Focus New Mexico web site for information on both red and green chiles, where to find them in New Mexico, and how to use them. Be sure to check out the rest of the web site, too, for travel information.
For a good Red Chile Sauce Recipe: http://www.pepperfool.com/recipes/southwest/nm_red_sauce.html
*Library of Congress photograph: I do not know of any copyright restrictions associated with this photo. If you do, please notify me via the comments section of this blog.