Chicos are a perfect example of good things come to those who wait.
Ears of sweet corn are placed in a hot horno, a traditional outdoor mud oven. The opening of the horno is sealed with mud and then the corn is slowly roasted overnight, giving it a luscious, smoky flavour. The next day, the horno is unsealed, the husks are removed and the corn is placed on metal screens to dry.
The drying process takes weeks as Fall sets in and the temperatures in New Mexico drop. Chicos used to be a staple New Mexican food, but because they take so long to make, they’re hard to find these days. That’s why we’re so proud to work with growers in northern New Mexico who make the finest chicos around.
Traditionally, chicos are served with pinto beans but they’re super versatile. For this dish, we’ve paired them with our winter squash, and some chile (naturally!). If you’ve got any leftovers, we like to turn it into a soup – simply sauté onion, carrot and celery, add some stock, chop up the squash and add the chicos. Simmer to let the flavors develop and enjoy.
1 cup Sichler Farm chicos
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 lb winter squash, such as Carnival
½ tsp cumin powder
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Rinse the chicos and set aside. Heat half the olive oil in a pan, sauté the onion until soft but not brown, then add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chicos and the red chile pod, stir them in the oil with the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for an hour or two, or until the chicos are done but still have a bite.
While the chicos are cooking, carefully cut the winter squash into wedges and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Mix the other half of the oil with the green chile powder and cumin and brush on to the squash wedges. Sprinkle generously with salt and place in the preheated oven. Turn the wedges after about 10 or 15 minutes and cook for another 10 or 15 or until you can easily insert a knife into a wedge.
When the chicos are ready, drain them (discard the chile pod) and place them on a large serving dish. Top with the squash, add an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and your choice of garnishes. Keep it vegetarian with lime and cilantro or make it into a main dish with the addition of cooked chorizo and some crumbled goat’s cheese.