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Dishing Up New Mexico

New Mexican's have a palette all their own. Hot and sweet, seasonal, and local, NM dishes are almost always laced with green chili, or topped with chipotle. When the heat creeps something sweet is there to cool things down, honey or perhaps something made of prickly pear. We have peppers in unmatched variety, though we're most known the green chili that comes out of Hatch. The real question is how to use the colorful and oddly shaped and sized variety of nightshades.

Tonight I tried the first of several recipes that I have earmarked in Storey Publishing's book titled Dishing Up New Mexico by Dave Dewitt.

The recipe I made is a fresh grape salsa. It was an excellent side dish to a horseradish heavy lentil and black bean burger that I regularly make. The salsa toned down the spice of the burgers. I always go wild with horseradish and find myself with watery eyes and at times banging on the table in anxiety as I wait for the burn the pass. When it does I go right back for another torturous bite. The salsa  took the place of the table banging. I was surprised at how mildly sweet the grape salsa was.  In spite the fact that grapes are the main ingredient, the dish bordered on savory. The salt, pepper, jalapino, and red onion balanced it. It was delicious and simple.

One of the best features of this book is the list of resources provided for finding some of the ingredients. As a local I can actually go to the farmers markets and farms mentioned in the book. Perhaps the most important ingredient that you'll find in New Mexican cooking is green chili (preferably from Hatch, NM) which lucky for you can be mail ordered. Even when I lived in New York City restaurants boasted that they served Hatch green chili.

I have plans to cook a few more dishes from Dishing Up New Mexico, including the cucumber and chili pepper popsicles, honey roasted radishes, blistering baked squash with Blueberries, herb and chili roasted lamb, and chickpea and chorizo stew. More as it comes....

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