Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chile Today

We're switching things up this December to keep you on your toes.  Today we welcome G.M. Malliet as our guest.  G.M. Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer, won the Agatha Award in 2009 for Best First Novel. An IPPY silver medalist, it was nominated for Anthony, David, and Macavity awards and a Left Coast Crime award for best police procedural. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the best books in any category of 2008.

The second St. Just book is Death and the Lit Chick, a 2010 Anthony nominee. Her short story "Bookworm" was also nominated for a 2011 Anthony. She is currently writing a new series for Minotaur that begins with WICKED AUTUMN, a Library Journal pick for best mystery of 2011. Visit her at gmmalliet.com

And now G.M.~

Santa Fe, New Mexico, in addition to being a magnet for artists and writers, is one of the great foodie destinations of the world. The pilgrimage started many years ago with the 1987 opening of the now-famous Coyote Café and the subsequent publication of owner Mark Miller’s cookbook (which appears to have gone out of print).

On a recent vacation my husband and I taste-tested chili sauce, both green and red—they call this Christmas sauce—for three meals a day at nearly every restaurant in town and never got tired of it. (Someone told me food spiced with chilis is not fattening because it speeds up the metabolism. While that sounds like an old wives’ tale, I choose to believe it and always will.)

This green chili recipe below that I’m calling Chili Today is a variation of the recipe taught at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. I’ve twice been lucky enough to attend classes there, and to be taught by Deena Chafetz and Noe Cano. If you’re visiting, I recommend it highly. Or at least visit their store, which is stocked with many of the ingredients and implements used in the classes. (No, I don’t work for the school or the New Mexico tourism board—I’m simply a fan.)

The beauty of this green sauce is its simplicity. Only a few ingredients are needed, it’s pretty much fool-proof, and you can use green chili as a garnish with almost any dish, not just with Mexican/New Mexican foods:


¼ cup canola or grape seed oil [olive oil has too strong a taste]
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 or 5 New Mexican or Anaheim chiles (about 2/3 cup, peeled and chopped)
1-1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
Freshly ground coriander seed, to taste (optional)
Salt to taste (optional)

(Some recipes call for flour as a thickener but it’s not needed and can give the chili a floury taste. And while Deena’s recipe calls for chicken stock, I’m going for a vegetarian version here. One time I substituted shallot for some of the garlic and onion—not very New Mexican, but it tasted good to me.)


Char the chilis until the skin is blackened and easy to remove. I bought a special grill for this that fits over a stove burner, but you can simply broil the chilis on a foil-lined sheet in the oven. Turn the chilis over at least a couple of times as they roast so they’re blackened on all sides.

Place the roasted chilis in a plastic bag and let them steam for a bit. (This step isn’t strictly necessary, but the skin comes off easier this way.) Then scrape the skin off using paper towels. The chilis are hot, of course, so handle with care. Cut off the stems, and cut the chilis in half lengthwise; remove the seeds before chopping the chilis into ¼-inch squares.

Heat the canola or grape seed oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion on high until softened. Add the garlic and sauté, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the green chili, the coriander seed (optional), and stir in the stock or water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Salt to taste (optional).


  1. Hi, G.M.! Thanks for joining us here today. I love that the chili sauce is called Christmas sauce and that it speeds up our metabolism (Ha! Let's hope!) This sounds like a wonderful recipe...thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to reading "Wicked Autumn."

  2. This recipe sounds fabulous. My whole family is tex-mex fanatics and we're always looking for new dishes.

    I just finished reading Wicked Autumn and it is also fabulous. I found myself reading slower and slower - a sure sign that I liked it so much I didn't want it to end! Max Tudor and all the people who inhabit Nether Monkslip are wonderful characters and the mystery is first rate. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

  3. I love the part about the metabolism. Chilis, here I come. The more I eat, the faster I'll go, right?

    Thanks for blogging with us today, G.M.

    ~ Krista

  4. Anything that increases my metabolism is a good thing.

    Looking forward to reading Wicked Autumn.

  5. Jane R - the next installment is in the works. Thank you for letting me know you liked the first one.

    I think there really is something to the metabolism thing. I eat pretty much constantly in New Mexico and I don't gain an ounce. Ask your doctor ;-) -- but I'm sure it's true.