New Mexico attacks Super Bowl bet involving ‘Denver green chile’

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Dried chile peppers (Credit: Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce)

Dried chile peppers (Credit: Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce)

DENVER — The talk leading up to the Super Bowl has been all about Seattle vs. Denver. But a new challenger appeared this week, looking for a piece of the Mile High City.

The state of New Mexico is taking issue with a Super Bowl bet between Denver mayor Michael Hancock and Seattle mayor Ed Murray, in which Hancock wagered handmade skis, a hoodie and a sampling of Denver’s “amazing green chile,” the Associated Press reported.

“We are the chile state,” Katie Goetz, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, told the AP.

Many New Mexicans have taken to social media to tout their state’s relationship with the Southwestern dish (more accurately called chile sauce) and scorn Denver’s less-traditional recipe. Colorado versions generally tend to be soupier and milder.

“The flavor of New Mexico green chile is just unique, and nobody else can even come close to delivering that kind of flavor,” Jaye Hawkins of the New Mexico Chile Association told the AP. “I’m assuming that’s what the folks in Colorado love about it.”

Late Thursday, the Pueblo chamber of commerce entered the fray, challenging the state of New Mexico to a “green chile throwdown” to prove that their chiles are just as good as anything grown in New Mexico.

“While we acknowledge that New Mexico grows many varieties of chile and has developed a very impressive distribution system, they are not the only area that grows chiles,” said Rod Slyhoff, president of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce. “The Pueblo Chile is meatier which allows it to roast better than the Hatch Chile, this creates more flavor and reduces water; making the Pueblo Chile much more desirable for cooking and eating.”

Pueblo hosts an annual Chile and Frijoles Festival in September.

While New Mexico is known for its chile (both the spicy sauce and the pepper itself), claiming a patent on the modern version of the dish is a bold move.

“The mixture of meat, beans, peppers, and herbs was known to the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayan Indians long before Columbus and the conquistadores,” according to the website of the International Chili Society. “Fact: Chile peppers were used in Cervantes’s Spain and show up in great ancient cuisines of China, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Caribbean, France, and the Arab states.”

But New Mexico could make a strong case for earliest chile sauce in the future United States, ICS writes.

“Don Juan de Onate entered what is now New Mexico in 1598 and brought with him the green chile pepper, the group says. “It has grown there for the nearly four hundred years since.”

Southwestern cuisine enthusiasts might even debate the differences between “chile” and “chili.”

In any case, the state of New Mexico has come up with a solution that should make everyone happy: Officials are sending their brand of chile sauce to leaders in both Denver and Seattle.


  • laticiaborgenine

    I grew up just north of the New Mexico border and have lots of family in NM. I have lived in Denver for 30 years. Chances are the chile made in Denver is made with NM chiles, although Pueblo chiles are amazing also. There are people here in Denver that come from NM, and probably make their mamas recipes. I also know there are LOTS of
    Bronco fans in New Mexico. I don’t know why it’s a big deal.

  • EligiusR

    we don’t take to kindly to your words sir. Although we take pride in our architecture and fine stone jewelry. Thanks for the compliment. This is too bad because New Mexicans really like our friends to the north. Much more so than either state to our left or right.

    Arriba Estado de Nuevo Mexico!

  • Suzanne Castillo Devlin

    The only issue I have with New Mexico is that over the years, traditional New Mexico dishes have changed more for expediency and it has suffered. very few restaurants prepare traditional dishes the way they should be prepared.

    While our family ties remained strong, after my family moved to California, we went back often to visit then my father moved back after my parents divorced. My mother “cooked old school” (as do I) whether it was red or chile green chile or chile dishes, biscochitos, calabacitas, coles con carne seca, sopaipillas, four tortillas, sweet chile rellenos, posole and all the rest the way our ancestors made them. I still have my great, grandmother’s bolillo from the 1800’s. My Great-grandmother Maria Peña gave it to my mother as a wedding gift in 1936 when she was in her 80’s and could no longer hold it due to arthritis.

    Much of the change is also due to infusion from out of staters into The Land of Enchantment as well as from Mexico where the cuisine quite different. My grandmother would have shot anyone who put oregano or cumin in her chile because, after all, why would anyone want to screw around with the food of the gods? Once those strong speices are added the rich natural taste of the chile is altered….and not for the better.

    It’s as important where chile is grown as it is how it’s is prepared. Never ever cut roasted and peeled green chile with a knife. Nope! It’s peeled then put into a bowl then with hands full, the chile is then squeezed through the fingers so it has a stringy consistency. If it’s too hot, wear surgical gloves. I usually then cut through two or three times so the strands aren’t too long.

    Only fresh garlic and a little salt is needed with fresh roasted green chile….. unless one is making green chile stew or some other wonderful traditional New Mexico dish.

    Like I said earlier, why would one want to screw around with the food of the gods? Every year on my annual pilgrimage to Santa Fe, I bring back lots of fresh green chile. I have a special freezer for my New Mexico green chile and always have dried red on hand as well.

    My family dates back to the Oñate Expedition of 1598.


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