Outstanding Chefs Share Favorite Holiday Recipes - LasCruces.com
chile colorado

The holidays always call for home chefs to create something special to serve to family and friends. We reached out to some respected Southern New Mexico chefs
for their suggestions on what to whip up in the kitchen this holiday season. Their ideas? Frangelico Piñon Pie, Christmas Braided Bread, Holiday Honeycrisp Salad, and Chile Colorado. Yum!


frangelico pinion pieChef John Lucero, Double Eagle

Pie crust
2.5 cups all-purpose flour plus a little extra to keep it from sticking
to the table and rolling pin
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 – 8 tablespoons water

1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add half the butter and pulse several times. Then add the rest of the butter and pulse 6 – 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large peas. Sprinkle the mixture with 4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse again, then add water 1 tablespoon at a time pulsing once or twice after each addition until the dough starts to hold together. (Note: You may not need all the water.)

2. Mold the dough into two even discs; don’t knead the dough or you will get a tough crust. You should be able to see specks of butter, which will mean a much flakier crust. Sprinkle each disc with flour and refrigerate for at least one hour.

3. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let sit for about 10 minutes, then roll the dough out onto a floured surface until about ⅛-inch thick. Gently place over a pie pan and form to fit the pan, trim any excess dough from the top, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

4. Line the crust with foil and place pie weights on top and bake at 350 F for about 35 minutes. Cool completely and your crust is ready to fill.

2 cups piñon nuts
3 large eggs
1 cup corn syrup
½ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ounce Frangelico liqueur (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. In a bowl, mix eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, Frangelico, and salt, and stir until smooth.

3. Place piñons in the bottom of the pie and pour the mixture over nuts to coat them.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes, then lightly tent it with aluminum foil so the crust and pine nuts don’t burn. Bake for another 35 – 45 minutes until the filling has set. It should be a little jiggly in the middle when done but will be set. Let cool completely before slicing.


(Red chile sauce from dried pods)

The owners of La PostaTom and Jerean Hutchinson and the staff at La Posta de Mesilla

Red chile Sauce
12 pods dried chile
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon powdered garlic
2 tablespoons pure lard or corn oil
1 tablespoon flour

1. Wash chile pods, removing stems and seeds. Bring chile pods and water to boil, reduce heat and allow to steam for 10 minutes or longer.

2. Pour into a blender and liquefy. Strain sauce through a colander or sieve. Add salt and garlic to taste.

3. Heat lard until quite hot in a frying pan, add flour, and mix quickly. Pour into chile sauce and stir until thickened. Add tomato juice or more water for desired thickness.


Pork and hominy
4 pounds pork, cut into cubes
6 cups water
2 15.5 oz cans white hominy

1. Cook chopped pork in 6 cups of water until well done. Drain fat.

2. Bring half a gallon of water to a boil and cook hominy according to instructions.

3. Add meat and red chile to hominy, reduce heat and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Add water and salt to make it as soupy and tasty as desired.

4. Garnish each bowl of posole with a sprinkling of dried oregano, a topping of chopped onions, and a squeeze of lime. Buen provecho!


braided breadChef Vince Campbell

8 cups flour
2 cups warm milk
½ cup warm water
2 packets yeast (or 4½ teaspoons)
1 cup sugar
½ tablespoon salt
¾ to 1 cup unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground cardamom or 3 pods
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup slivered or chopped almonds
4 ounces of candied fruit (optional)

1. In a measuring cup dissolve yeast in ½ cup of warm water.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix milk, sugar, salt, butter, and cardamom with 1 – 2 tablespoons flour, and mix until smooth. Add yeasted water and remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and firm. Sprinkle dough with a small amount of flour, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

3. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

5. Divide dough into three equal pieces, roll into long strips, and braid. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise. Brush with a lightly beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar, chopped almonds, and candied fruit. Bake at 375 F for 15 – 20 minutes.


Doña Ana Community College Instructor Chef Tom Drake

½ cup light vegetable oil, such as sunflower, safflower, or extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 medium Honeycrisp apples (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
Juice of ½ lemon
12 ounces salad greens: spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, baby
romaine, or a combination of any of these greens
1 cup pecan halves, toasted or candied
¾ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Apple cider vinaigrette
Measure oil, apple cider vinegar, apple juice/cider, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a Mason jar. Tightly screw on the lid, and shake vigorously until everything is thoroughly combined. Alternatively, briskly whisk ingredients in a medium bowl or blend them in a blender or mini food processor.

Place apple slices in a large plastic baggie, and squeeze juice from the lemon half over them. Close bag, shake to coat. In a large salad bowl, layer salad greens, apple slices, pecans, dried cranberries, and blue cheese. Just before serving, dress with the desired amount of apple cider vinaigrette, and toss until salad ingredients are evenly coated. You may prep individual salad components ahead of time and then assemble just before serving.

How to store components ahead of time (a day or two)
Make the vinaigrette, and store it in the refrigerator. Before using, allow it to come to room temperature, then shake well. Toast pecans, allow to completely cool, and store in an airtight container. Wash and dry salad greens and store in an airtight container. Apples can only be cut a few hours ahead of time on the same
day. Cut apples and shake slices with a generous amount of lemon juice. Squeeze the air out of the bag, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad. Honeycrisp apples will typically hold their bright color (shaken with lemon juice) for several hours. Other softer apples will brown more quickly, so those shouldn’t be sliced and shaken with lemon juice until just before serving.


John Lucero has been the chef at the Double Eagle for more than a year and has been cooking since age 17. His first job was at the now-closed O’Ryan’s Tavern in Las Cruces for Double Eagle owner C.W. “Buddy” Ritter. John is a native of Las Cruces and a graduate of what was then Oñate High School. Even though he thinks of the Double Eagle as a food destination and not the home of one of Mesilla’s most famous hauntings, Lucero has seen the ghost himself. Maybe the ghost is looking for pie . . .

Tom and Jerean Hutchinson bought La Posta in March 1996 and completed a major expansion in 2012, encompassing founder Katy Griggs Camuñez’s wood shop and private home. The historic adobe has been on the historic Mesilla Plaza for more than 80 years.  

Vince Campbell is a longtime Las Cruces chef who cooks at the Grapevine. He has been a participant in Men Who Cook, the annual fundraiser for Mesilla Valley Hospice, and Taste, which benefits the Casa de Peregrinos emergency food program. Campbell has been a participating chef in the Dress the Child fundraising dinner for more than 30 years and has been an organizer of that event since 2000.

Tom Drake has been a chef for more than 30 years and has been an instructor in DACC’s Culinary Arts program for the past eight years. He has been executive chef for professional sports teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association, and has prepared meals for major rock stars. Tom is also a longtime chef in the Dress the Child fundraising dinners and is advising Casa de Peregrinos on the construction of their new building in Las Cruces.


Story and photography by Mike Cook

Recipes courtesy of the chefs

Originally published in Neighbors magazine

Posted by LasCruces.com

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