A New Mexico Inspired Sandwich

Ever been to Santa Fe? Even though it’s just a hop skip and jump away from Denver, it’s been years since we’ve been. It’s a wonderful town bustling with lots of art and unique New Mexican cuisine.

But wait a minute, just what makes New Mexico style food different from Tex-Mex or Mexican?

This popular form of southwest cuisine  is very different. Its most defining characteristic is the dominance of the New Mexican chile, the state’s largest agricultural crop.

In New Mexico, the green chile is an ingredient in everything from enchiladas and burritos to cheeseburgers, french fries, bagels, and even pizza. The most famous of these New Mexico grown chiles is the Hatch chile from Hatch, New Mexico.

I read that before the arrival of Europeans, New Mexico’s current borders overlapped the areas of the Navajo, Mescalero, and Chiricahua tribes. The Spaniards brought their cuisine which mingled with the indigenous dishes and flavors. At the end of the Mexican-American War, New Mexico became part of the United States, and was strongly influenced by incoming U.S. tastes. This history combined with the local terrain and climate has resulted in its significant differences and is what makes New Mexican cuisine unique.

New Mexico has bragging rights for bringing us the blue corn tortilla, the stacked enchilada, green chile and sopapillas.

For a gift last Christmas, I received this wonderful cookbook full of unique recipes from Cafe Pasqual’s, a popular restaurant in Santa Fe. Cafe Pasqual’s has been in business over 30 years, is located in downtown Santa and specializes in Old Mexico, New Mexico and Asian cuisine.

This is a great little cookbook, full of wonderful recipes, beautiful tinted photographs and Mexican art throughout.

Let’s take a look at a sandwich inspired from this cookbook.

This recipe focuses on the Chimayo chile pepper named for the town where it’s grown…Chimayo, New Mexico.  It’s slightly hotter than a cayenne pepper.

First off, I baked a loaf of corn bread to use as the base. This isn’t your normal fall apart corn bread, but more the consistency of a dense style bread, calling for more flour than corn meal. Add some fresh corn, yeast, cream and the unique flavor of the Chimayo chile pepper and you’ve got a flavorful bread on which to build the sandwich.

Taking a slice of bread, I smeared it with some Hatch chile mayonnaise. Simply some mayonnaise blended with cilantro and chopped Hatch Chiles and of course a sprinkle of the Chimayo Chile Powder.  Every year I buy a few bags of freshly roasted Hatch chiles and they’re tucked away in the freezer to use in dishes all winter long.

The sandwich is then topped with shredded cooked chicken breast which has been marinating in olive oil and garlic for 24 hours.

Over the chicken breast spoon on some carmelized onions and jalapenos. For this I sliced one large sweet yellow onion, sautéed it in olive oil for about 20 minutes. I then added in three sliced jalapenos sprinkled all with about two tablespoons sugar and cooked for an additional seven minutes.

Topped with some shredded Manchego cheese and popped under the broiler for a few minutes and you’ve got a wonderful ooey-gooey tasty New Mexico inspired sandwich. The star of this sandwich was the flavor of the corn bread. The bread is sweet and with the earthy heat and flavor from the Chimayo chile you’ll be finding yourself wanting to dig through your jewelry box to find that turquoise bracelet to wear.

And you cannot ignore those carmelized onions and jalapenos. What  a wonderful flavor combination, especially with the melted Manchego cheese melting in between the rings of flavor.

Served with some sliced mangos sprinkled with Znax2Go. Znax2Go is a seasoning that you sprinkle over fruits or vegetables, a delicious combination of hot chile powder and sugar. I think it’s great on mangos.

New Mexico Sandwich…It’s What’s For Dinner.

On this day..

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  1. says

    I never realized that it was the chile that differentiated Santa Fe cuisine from Tex-Mex of Mexican. I guess I must really love this type of cuisine then! This sandwich sounds so good!

  2. says

    Love Santa Fe and anything “New Mexican Cuisine” inspired. My husband eats his chili sauce purchased at “The Shed” in Santa Fe almost every day. Luckily we have family living there to restock. Great sandwich! Would be very welcome at our house, too.

    • says

      Thanks Cathy.  I’m really wanting to go back to Santa Fe.  I’m sure it’s changed alot since I’ve been.  I love staying at the LaFonda on the Plaza (if that’s still the name of it).  Plus they had the most wonderful French Bakery below the hotel.  yum

  3. says

    The sandwich looks very unique – I think I have the stuff to make up some of the mayo for any sandwich and thanks for the cuisine info. We’ve been thru Santa Fe a couple of times heading for Taos to ski and I’ve often wished I’d spent some of my time there. We went to the Hatch Chile Festival several years ago while visiting our kids at White Sands and it was a real pepper experience. Congrats on winning Sam’s giveaway – seems like you won another not long ago, maybe Cathys, nice to be lucky.

  4. says

    Man did this make me miss Santa Fe! Great post and the sandwich looks delicious. (I’m Googling that chile powder) I wanted to wear my turquoise earrings after just reading about it and seeing your yummy photos! :) And you baked bread – I’m impressed. I’m still not much of a baker, but that sandwich looks amazing enough to make me want to give bread baking another shot. Love Hatch chiles and LOVE The Shed – I haven’t been there since the 80’s, so it was good to hear that it’s still there. Wonderful post, LA!

  5. says

    Don’t be too impressed. As usual, my bread ended up heavy and dense. It’s a great recipe and I’ll send it to you if you want. It’s lengthy. Between the rises and the punch downs it was an afternoon event. I think I punched one too many times, because the 2nd rise didn’t do as well as it should have. I’m going to try it again. I c-a-n-n-o-t seem to make a good loaf of bread. But, with all that said, it sure tasted good. And was great for this sandwich. :-) Hatch chiles are special. We used to drive across the border and buy a bushel sack, then I’d spend all afternoon roasting. I’m sure glad those roaster guys with their machines came onto the Denver scene.

  6. Vino Luci Style says

    I would hate to admit to you how many times I’ve made it to Sante Fe since moving to Denver 25 years ago (once; there, I’ve gone and done it).

    But you are so right and the food stays with you. Like you, I wait longingly for the chili roasting season as I never buy enough to make it through the year, but luckily, I have some now and I love everything about this sandwich. Can I say yummalicious?

    • says

      Too funny Barb. I’m not quite as bad as you, but can you believe it’s so close and such a foodie mecca and we don’t visit more often? I’ve got three bags in the freezer. I’m hoping that’s enough.

  7. says

    I want some of that chile powder! I adore the cuisine of New Mexico even though I have never been; but I love this layering of flavors and the interplay of heat and mellowness from the cheese and chicken

    • says

      If I didn’t have a wonderful spice shop here in Denver, I’d always be ordering spices over the Internet. So fun to try different regional offerings.

  8. says

    I’ve been to Cafe Pasqual’s! Loved it, too. What a super cookbook that must be.
    Santa Fe is one of my favorite cities…we had such a wonderful time. Would love to go back.
    Now this sammie you made is filled with fabulous flavors! And the bread looks delicious. Good post, Lea Ann!

  9. says

    Lea Ann…great info on New Mexico…might just nudge me to dig a little further into their cuisine. Unfortunately, my tummy isn’t very brave when it comes to hot spice. I’m sure I can work around that.

    I’ve had a little catching up to do on your posts…and it looks like you had quite a bit going on in that kitchen of yours.

    Thanks for your passionate and enthusiastic dedication ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  10. says

    We really enjoyed the food in Santa Fe when we were down there some years back. The taste of the food was sharper as it had it a little less cheese and was quite delicious.

    Your sandwich looks superb. Those chilies are sure to excite the tastebuds.

  11. says

    Delicious! Santa Fe is a nice little 12 hour drive for us from Austin, and we luv to go! I have that same cookbook! Anything Santa Fe makes my mouth start watering — there is just nothing else like it!!! I gotta try that sandwich!

  12. says

    I think New Mexico should have bragging rights. Their cuisine is complex and flavorful. Your bread may not have turned out exactly what you wanted but, this looks delicious.

    btw, congrats on winning the CSN gift certificate. Awesome.

    • says

      Thanks Velva. I agree, complex and flavorful and it was so good that I can forgive the bread snafu. As always, thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  13. says

    This is lovely! I just borrowed a book from our local library last night on Super Foods and chilis are listed among them with many powerful benefits. I am not very familiar with cooking with chilis so your recipe and the review of the cookbook are both well appreciated. Thank you! Now to buy some chilis and the cookbook!

  14. says

    Wow, this is an ultimate sandwich! The corn bread with Chimayo chile sounds incredible and I love Hatch chiles so the mayo sounds so good! I love all the components of this, yum!


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