In the early
1990s, I took my first trip to Santa Fe with Mikey, my best friend since the
5th grade. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it would be an adventure.
This was, of
course, prior to the Internet (was there even life prior to the Internet?), so
I had no way to find out what to do there, other than perusing books at the
library and getting recommendations from friends.
research, I knew that I wanted to visit the Loretta Chapel for its Miraculous
Staircase, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum,
and the art galleries on Canyon Road.
had recommendations from my good friends Bill & Alan, and Norma & Jola;
they loved their time in Santa Fe. My to-do list from them included dinner at
the Inn of the Anasazi, lunch at the Blue Corn Cafe, and breakfast at Cafe
We managed to
accomplish everything on both my cultural and culinary itineraries.
communal breakfast table at Pasqual's, I fell hard for Mexican hot chocolate,
and enjoyed it served frothy and hot in a large jelly jar.
At the Blue
Corn Café, my tastebuds were tickled by the chipotle corn chowder. When I asked
how it was made, they already had printed copies of the recipe (I guess it was
aside: the recipe for the corn chowder was probably dashed off quickly by the
chef, and typed up by someone at the restaurant. There is a tiny but significant
typo in the list of ingredients: instead of listing "1 canned chipotle
chile" it said "1 can chipotle chiles." That is a big
difference. BIG difference. The first time I made it (for Bill and Alan), I
used the full can of chipotle chiles and it was so hot that it was almost
inedible. Bless their hearts for continuing to eat it, as sweat poured from
At the Inn of
the Anasazi, Mikey and I both ordered the pork tenderloin that had been dusted
with chile, chocolate, and cinnamon. I posted my re-created from memory version
in Inspired by Greatness. For
dessert, we had buñuelos, a fried dough stuffed with creamy custard and topped
with a chocolate sauce. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?
A couple of
weeks ago, Mark and I returned to Santa Fe to see our friends Denny & Trudy
for the weekend. Aside from visiting the city's incomparable museums, eating
extremely well (both in restaurants and at their home), and catching up with our
good friends in their beautiful “new” 200-year old home, we managed to catch
the lowrider parade as it came into the plaza. Spectacular! As one woman next
to me said, "It's like candy on wheels!'
On our way to
Santa Fe, we stopped in Hatch, New Mexico, to restock our dwindling ground
chile powder supplies. We got both mild and hot, as well as the famous Hatch
green chile. And that reminded me of a chicken dish Bill made for us once after
he and Alan had returned from Santa Fe. I asked him about it years later and he
vaguely remembered making it, but had no idea what he did.
That left it
up to me to reinvent a memory. Here is my version of a wonderful Santa Fe-style
chicken and peppers dish that Bill made for me more than 20 years ago. I may
not remember what I did five minutes ago, but my tastebuds never forget!
Peppers, Santa Fe-style
2 red bell
chicken breast halves (with skin), each about 4 ounces*
ground black pepper
mild red chile
green chile powder **
1 cup heavy
oven to 350°F.
Wash and core
the two red bell peppers; remove all seeds and slice into 1/4-inch strips. Heat
2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet and cook the peppers over medium heat
until soft, but not brown - about 20 minutes. Set aside for serving.
remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season
the chicken pieces with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a little red
chile powder. Brown the chicken breast halves starting skin-side down for 1 1/2
minutes per side. Transfer from the skilled to a baking sheet (do not clean the
skillet) and place in the oven for 10 minutes, while you finish the dish.
used chicken skillet to medium heat and add the green chile powder. Cook for 30
seconds to fully release the flavor of the chile. Add the cream, and cook until
slices. Spoon some of the sauce onto four serving plates. Place a chicken
breast on the sauce and top with red pepper slices.
rice to soak up the sauce.
* If you have
a hard time finding small chicken breast halves, slice larger ones in half as if
making chicken scaloppine.
green chile powder can be ordered online from Made in New Mexico