Green Chile Cheeseburger at Bobcat Bite
The best red chile sauce ever
Chef Michelle Roetzer and a student

I wasn’t planning on taking a class during this trip since it was a last minute kind of thing but Steve urged me to sign up for one anyway since he knows how much I enjoyed the one I took last year. I signed up for the class, Chile Amor, taught by Chef Michelle Roetzer, a New Mexico native. Red chile from pods, green chile sauce, red chile sauce from powder, and corn tortillas were the dishes taught. Michelle gave a detailed history of chiles in New Mexico, and lectured extensively on agriculture and history as well. Of course I already knew there was a reason I love chiles and being reminded of the way capsaicin works, releasing endorphins and creating the sense of well-being and happiness I’ve experienced, was worth the price of admission.

I have already made all the dishes taught at some point over the years. Personally, I have not enjoyed too many red chile dishes and often found the red chile sauce to be bitter and too strong tasting. Chef Michelle told us the “recipes” given in the school handout were OK but she would show us how her grandmother taught her to make red chile sauce from the pods. I was all over that. There were stations set up for green chile sauce, red chile sauce from powder, red chile sauce from pods, and tortillas. I didn’t post myself at any of them so I could wander around. There were plenty of eager amateurs who couldn’t wait to roast chiles and peel peppers. I make green chile sauce a lot so I figured that would not be so interesting, however I did like her technique of blending half the green chiles and leaving the other half chopped. She also recommended using a corn flour/oil mixture to thicken it rather than a traditional roux.

I was interested most in the red chile from pod demonstration. Michelle’s method involved removing the seeds and stems from Hatch dried chiles (red), a few Cascabel chiles, and a couple Ancho chiles. Then some oil was heated and the dried chiles were cooked in the oil for quite a while. The onions and garlic were added, then some water. After they softened they were pureed in a Vitamix blender. They were strained through a China cap and then put back in the pan. A few pinches of cumin, coriander and oregano and a little salt and voila–red chile sauce.

It was a little bitter so she added a generous amount of honey and some agave nectar. Truthfully, I was not expecting to like it but it was amazing! It was spicy, hot but not too hot, flavorful in a deep, mysterious way, and intensely satisfying. I must say I loved it and want to recreate it in my kitchen as soon as possible.

We sat down at our tables to sample the tortillas and all the sauces. We passed around the homemade corn tortillas (delicious, by the way), with some local goat cheese. The red chile from pods and a little goat cheese on a fresh corn tortillas were excellent. The green chile sauce was great, perfect texture and flavor, and the red chile sauce from powder tasted kind of flat next to the sauce from pods. Taking the class was so valuable, just for the red chile sauce lessons. Out of the class I found two other chefs who were very experienced and seasoned, yet they wanted to increase their knowledge of sauce making. I am always eager to learn from others so I will continue taking classes here whenever I’m in town. Of course, after the class I immediately went to my favorite chile store and bought a bunch of Hatch dried red chiles, cascabel chiles, and some Hatch chile powder which I use for lots of dishes back home. I also bought some blue cornmeal, ancho chile powder, and other fun things from the cooking school.

We decided to go to a place called Bob Cat Bite for dinner. This is one of those places always shown on Travel channel when they feature hamburger paradise. Their green chile cheeseburger is supposed to be one of the best. We thought a burger sounded good after all the tortillas. The place is a few miles from our hotel but not too far and it’s a very old and small place. We had to wait for a table and there was a long wait for our burgers. They were half pound premium beef burgers on some good buns but the meat was very thick and there was a lot of it. The burger was so thick I could not take a bite of the whole burger at one time. Overall, it was pretty good but I prefer both Fred’s Texas Cafe in Fort Worth or Alamo Springs for the best burger. Still, I did eat it so I can’t really complain. Oink.