Upon traveling to New Mexico, one of the first things someone will notice is chile ristras. The eye catching strings of dried or drying red chile are quite appealing to anyone who likes the southwestern aesthetic. Throughout New Mexico, the red of chile ristras, and the green from green chile are everywhere, even more than the color turquoise in Santa Fe.
Somthing unfortunate in my opinion, is that for many, chile ristras are seen as only a decoration. Yes, they are beautiful, but they are also wonderful for cooking with, and keep a great flavor for up to 3 years. Typical red chile ristras are made with sandia chile, which is hot, but not too hot. It is a variety which is spicy enough for someone who likes heat, but won’t cause undue pain on a spice novice. Additionally, the natural drying process that the chile goes through gives it a deep somewhat savory flavor due to the fermentation which takes place during drying.
More than just flavor, red chile sauces are incredibly easy to make. All one needs to do is take out the stem and seeds from chile on the ristra, blend it up for about 10 minutes with some garlic powder and onion powder, then boil it with a chicken or vegetable stock. Altogether, the whole process takes less than an hour, and you can make a red chile sauce which will last a year or more in the freezer.
The best part about all of this, is that it is quite easy to harvest chile from the bottom of your ristra, then push the string up into the remaining chile to hide it. The ristra gets shorter as you use it, but it still stays quite beautiful. This kind of two way decoration is very good for sustainability as well as being beautiful and delicious. Ristras are a great blessing, and we are very proud to sell 100% edible ristras in Albuquerque at 2010 Eubank.
If you are curious about ristras, you can learn more in our FAQ