When you think about New Mexico green chile, you probably think about that tasty burn on your lips, the roasting smell that epitomizes late summer and fall in New Mexico, and the name “Hatch.” What some people may not always think about is the name “Franzoy.” The Franzoy family created a dynasty and legacy of chile farming and production in southern NM that has brought worldwide fame and recognition to this small region of our state.
The Farming Family that made Hatch Chile Famous
Family time, tradition and food are the three cornerstones for most New Mexico families. To invite someone to dine with your family, to serve them the traditional foods of your family, and to simply share a meal with someone, no matter how rich or poor you were, is something that characterized Joseph and Celestina Franzoy.
The Franzoy’s emigrated from Austria at the turn of the 20th century. They came from a country where they probably had never seen a chile pepper, but they adapted to farming the loamy soil of Hatch like they were born to it. Their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren WERE literally born into the chile industry due to the efforts of their ancestors.
Joseph and Celestina bought land for each of their twelve children. With a family of over 700 members, this family has generations of experience, with an estimated 15,000 acres around Hatch, New Mexico farmed by their descendants. They have been growing chile so long that there are varieties named after members of their family.
Cultivating a Chile Legacy
There are numerous varieties of chile worldwide. New Mexico features over 20 unique cultivars. Arguably the most well-known (and popular) variety is the Big Jim. This meaty, mild chile was named after James Franzoy based on a collaboration with the Chile Pepper Institute at NMSU. The goal was to grow a large, meaty pepper with more heat than the Anaheim chile. With a Scoville rating between 1,000 and 1,500 heat units, and chiles over a foot long, the Big Jim is a flavorful, slightly spicy, mega pepper! But as the old timers will tell you, as they sip a scalding cup of black coffee with their eggs smothered in green chile every morning, “the hotter the better.”
Servings: 4 – 6, depending on portions
Calabacitas – translated to “little gourds” – is a traditional New Mexican dish featuring corn and squash, with chile added to give it some kick. This recipe is a great way to use zucchini overflow from the garden. Calabacitas provides a delicious substitute for meat in tamales, enchiladas, and burritos, or it can be served as a side dish.
Fresh corn is preferable, but canned or frozen corn will work when corn is out of season. If you need chile, Hatch Chile Store offers the lowest rates for shipping frozen chile nationwide.
- 1 Tablespoon of butter or olive oil (or a combination of both)
- 2 15-oz cans of whole kernel yellow corn or 2-3 ears fresh
- 2 large green squash/zucchini
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon granules (omit for vegetarian option)
- 1 cup chopped green chile
Optional: 1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- Peel the onion and chop.
- Remove the stem of the zucchini and cut into cubes or discs (about 1/2 inch thick).
- Drain and rinse the corn.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves.
- Melt the butter or oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions first and cook about 10 minutes until they become translucent. Add the squash and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Don’t overcook. Test the texture with a fork to avoid soggy squash. Ideally it should be al dente.
- Add the drained corn, green chile, chicken bouillon granules and garlic. Stir well.
- Turn the heat to low, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle the cheese on top.
Serve as a side dish with enchiladas and rice or use as a filling in a variety of dishes instead of meat. ¡Delicioso!
Please leave your recipe modifications, or any questions that you may have, in the comments.