By Kelley Coffeen
I love stopping by La Posta de Mesilla. Once a historical stop on the Butterfield stagecoach line and historic hotel, it evolved into a favorite local eatery when Katy Camunez started serving up Mexican style recipes in 1939. Fast forward to today; Tom and Jerean Hutchinson (part of the Camunez family), have preserved and enhanced the beautiful building and the historic recipes. Wondering through the historic site accented with Mexican tile and artwork you are sure to see something new on each visit. I love the little fireplaces tucked away here and there offering a warm comfortable feeling…
This time of year the decorating team at La Posta will truly amaze you with their Christmas décor! Jerean and her team bring together Mexican ornaments, poinsettias and colorful lights crowning the Christmas season with unique beauty.
Speaking of Christmas, you have got to try La Posta’s “Christmas style” enchiladas.
This plate consists of a combination of enchiladas made with fresh corn tortillas, stuffed with whatever, you would like; fresh cheese, tender meats or chicken…topped with a combination of rich red and/or green chile sauces made fresh daily. Savory refritos and Spanish rice and a side of fresh, tangy Mexican slaw round out the entrée. It is a local favorite and perfect for this time of year! Call ahead though….it is busy this time of year!
La Posta de Mesilla, 2410 Calle de San Albino, Mesilla, New Mexico. 575-524-3524. www.laposta-de-mesilla.com
Now, as many of you know, the official state question in New Mexico is “Red or Green?” referring to the choice of fresh chile sauces ladled upon enchiladas, burritos, egg dishes and whatever else we care to smother. These special sauces are key to many of the delicious dishes you will find in Las Cruces and part of our state culture and heritage. Here is a simple recipe for a red chile sauce. Serve it over enchiladas, burritos, even roasted or fried potatoes. Enjoy!!
Red Enchilada Sauce
(excerpt from 200 Easy Mexican Recipes, Robert Rose Publishing 2013)
This authentic sauce is traditional in the Southwest. Made from dried red chiles, it is a time-consuming process but worth the effort.
(See time-saving tips below)
Makes 2 cups
Blender or food processor
6 dried New Mexico red chile peppers
6 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place chiles in a bowl and cover with 1 quart (1 L) of water. Refrigerate overnight. This will soften the chiles.
2.Drain soaking liquid from chiles, reserving liquid. In a blender, purée chiles with 1-1/2 cups reserved liquid until smooth. Purée should be thick but pourable. Add additional soaking liquid, if needed. Press chile purée through a fine-mesh sieve or a strainer, discarding skin and seeds.
3.In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the oil over medium heat. Add chile purée and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors are well blended, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
4.In a small saucepan, heat remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) of oil over medium heat. Gradually stir in flour, creating a roux (a thick paste). Remove from heat.
5.Increase heat to medium. Gradually stir roux into chile sauce. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thick and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Time Saving Tip: You can find red chile puree (already processed) in some frozen food sections of many grocery stores in New Mexico. Substitute 16 oz. of red chile puree for dried red chiles. Skip Step 1 & 2. Follow Steps 3,4 and 5.