In New Mexico, burgers usually mean a GCCB – a green chile cheeseburger. This summer saw two big GCCB cookoffs – The best GCCB Challenge at the New Mexico State Fair and the GCCB Smackdown, produced by Edible magazines. Judging by the cook-off winners, the best burgers in New Mexico 2017 are . . .
Sparky’s (Hatch, NM) – New Mexico State Fair GCCB Challenge Sparky’s not only won the state fair competition, they seem to be replacing Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bobcat Bite) as the favorite burger joint in New Mexico.
Blue Heron at Sunrise Springs Spa (Santa Fe) – Winner GCCB Smackdown This brisket and ribeye burger was the creation of Santa Fe native, chef, Rocky Durham. The burger at up-scale Sunrise Springs spa is only available at lunch.
The official New Mexico state question is “red or green?” You will hear it the very first time you order New Mexican food. What your server is asking is, “which chile (sauce) do you want on your food?”
Red or green — there is never a wrong answer — but when the answer is red, you will be getting a rich, gravy-like sauce made from ripened and dried New Mexico chili pods. (The “green” is the same type of chili, but picked younger and cooked when it is fresh).
Traditionally, for the red, whole chili pods are cooked, then pureed into a sauce. However, you can make excellent red chile with pre-ground red chile powder.
Either way you start, everyone has their own spin on what is supposed to go into chile — add cumin or not, use stock or water — not to mention the debate about the “cheater” addition of flour. The common ingredients, of course are red chile and a desire for that tongue-tingling bright, earthy rush when red chile meets your mouth.