1999, we were chosen by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to be the Tastemakers
featured in the Taste section of the paper. Jay spent about a year attempting
to market New Mexico chiles to Minneapolis-St. Paul grocery stores, but we
decided ultimately that for the labor and expense involved, it was cheaper for
us just to fly to New Mexico once a year and stock up on chiles for our family
and friends! Meanwhile, it was fun to be the featured "Tastemakers."
This is the text of
the article written by Dimitria Phill.
Jay and Dorothy
For years, Jay and Dorothy Harris have returned from trips to New Mexico with their
bags stuffed with chiles. It was the only way they could reproduce their favorite New
Mexican recipes at home in Minneapolis. Soon, family and friends wanted their own chile
stash so they could prepare the aromatic foods that came from the Harris kitchen. Finally,
this past spring, the Harrises began Chile Minnesota, a business that brings the chiles
and cuisine of New Mexico to Minnesota.
20,000 acres of chiles
Deep in the Rio Grande Valley in southern New Mexico, 20,000 acres are devoted to
growing the New Mexico chile. It is also called the Hatch chile because it is grown near
the city of Hatch. It's a large chile, about 6 inches long and 1½ inches wide, with a
medium to hot flavor. The hot version is called the Sandia; the mild variety is called
The chile is picked and used in recipes when it is green as well as after it has fully
ripened and turned red. Green chiles are used fresh in sauces, stews, salsa and for chiles
rellenos. Fresh red chiles are pureed and used in sauces. Red chiles also are used dried,
both whole and powdered.
"While jalapeño is used by the teaspoon to season a recipe, New Mexico chile is
used by the cup as a main ingredient," said Jay. "In a recipe such as
and green chile cheese casserole, chile is layered with the other ingredients, similar to
New Mexican cuisine
Much of the food in New Mexico is based on Spanish and American Indian foods. Corn,
pork and chile are incorporated into stews, egg dishes and fresh salads such as guacamole
and salsa. Recipes rely on the subtle, hot and spicy flavors of the New Mexico chile.
"You might be driving along the mountains and come upon an old lady selling green
chile stew at her roadside stand," said Jay. "The stew would be made with green
chile, lamb or pork and potatoes. And she would make fresh fry bread to sell with bowls of
"In New Mexico, the grocery stores roast green chiles for you," said Dorothy.
"They roast the chiles just enough to loosen the skins. You buy roasted chiles and
freeze them to use later."
Chile Minnesota distributes green and red New Mexico chiles, plus chile sauce, chiles rellenos, tamales and green chile stew. All the items are made by Chile Products of New
Mexico Inc. Selected Byerly's and Lunds stores and Morgan's Mexican and Lebanese Foods in
St. Paul sell the items distributed by Chile Minnesota.
Tips for using chiles
Dorothy likes to experiment with New Mexico chiles, adding them to all types of
recipes. "Take your basic Swedish meatball recipe from Betty Crocker, throw in some
chile, and the meatballs turn out wonderfully," she said. Here are a few more of the
Harrises' tips for using green chile in everyday recipes. (All of these ideas call for
frozen chopped green chiles, thawed and drained.)
Mashed potatoes are enhanced with chiles and shredded cheese. Chiles are also good in
home fries and hash browns.
Mix chiles into hamburger before shaping and cooking. Or use chiles as a burger
Add chiles to scrambled eggs, omelets and quiche. Serve with warm corn tortillas and
Use chiles as a topping for homemade, delivered or frozen pizza.
Add chiles to guacamole, salsa, cheese dip and hot dips -- chile is great in artichoke
Incorporate chiles into breads such as corn bread and bread machine recipes.
Add chiles to soups, stews and rice pilaf.
Chile Chicken Casserole
Jay has been preparing this easy casserole for years. "Green chile and chicken
blend beautifully," he said. "There are chiles that are hotter than the New
Mexico chile, and others that have more flavor, but no other chile has the balance of
flavor and heat that these chiles have."
T. Phill, Minneapolis freelance writer.