Chicos with Red Chile

Dried young corn kernels are known as chicos, as well as dried New Mexican red chile, which can be found at farmers’ markets and the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Use any classic New Mexican red chile sauce, or make your own from the recipe below. Adapted from Tasting New Mexico: Recipes Celebrating 100 Years of Distinctive Home Cooking by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.

Chicos with Red Chile Recipe


2 tbsp vegetable oil, lard, or bacon drippings
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dried corn chicos
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
½ to 1 cup red chile sauce
1 tsp salt, or more to taste


  1. Warm the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and garlic, and sauté until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicos and stock to the pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1½ to 2 hours, until the chicos are well-softened and have lost their raw starchy flavor. They will remain a little chewy. Add hot water if the chicos begin to dry out.
  3. Add red chile sauce and, if needed, more salt. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. The chicos should remain a bit soupy.
  4. Serve hot in small bowls with some of the liquid, or drain with a slotted spoon and serve plated beside other dishes.

 For the Red Chile Sauce:

  1. Warm 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped small onion, and 2-3 minced garlic cloves, and sauté until the onion is limp.
  2. Stir in ¾ cup ground dried New Mexican red chile (mild, medium, hot, or a combination), and add 4 cups chicken or beef stock, about 1 cup at a time.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon crumbled dried Mexican oregano or marjoram and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring the sauce just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
  4. The completed sauce should coat a spoon thickly but still drop off it easily. Use warm or refrigerate for later use. This makes about 4 cups. The sauce will keep for 5-6 days and also freezes well.

Recipe by Cheryl Alters Jamison / Photography by Douglas Merriam

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