Chicos are dried kernels of sweet corn, traditionally roasted in an horno. Once rehydrated, they taste just like the sweetest roasted summer corn you’ve ever had, intensified. This is serious New Mexican food, completely obscure outside of the state, and even many who grew up here have never tried them. I’ve never seen them in a restaurant, but they are worth seeking out. They’re actually listed on the U.S. Ark of Taste, a catalog of outstandingly delicious traditional foods in danger of extinction.
The recipe is based on one from the PNM cookbook, Cocinas de New Mexico, but I modified it so I could just cook the chicos in a crockpot all day. Lots of local farms are selling pork, and its sweet flavor really complements the sweet corn. And I used dried green chile instead of red. They’re not quite the same as fresh, but they add a great flavor in stews.
Harvest Gifts makes exceptionally good chicos, as well as dried green chile. You can order by calling them at the number listed on the Downtown Growers’ Market website.
- 2 cups chicos
- 10 cups cold water
- 2 oil
- 1/2 pound pork cut in ½ inch cubes
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 4-5 dried green or red chiles crumbled
- Soak chicos in cold water overnight, then cook (with the watein a crockpot all day on low. If you prefer, you can just simmer them on the stove for about 3 hours after soaking. Heat the oil on medium flame, and sear the pork. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add the salt, oregano, chiles, and the chicos with all their water. Cook 20 minutes (or longer, as desireto blend the flavors and rehydrate the chiles.
Photo by Sergio Salvador
Edible celebrates New Mexico's food culture, season by season. We believe that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing. With our high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and informative publication, we inspire readers to support and celebrate the growers, producers, chefs, beverage and food artisans, and other food professionals in our community.