Chicos are prepared in two ways. The first method involves harvesting white or yellow field corn, removing the husks, tying the ears into ristras (strings), and hanging them for a week or two to dry. Once the corn is dry, it is rubbed off the cob and stored.
The second method involves slow roasting the corn overnight in an horno (outdoor adobe oven) with the husk on. The following day the husks are removed and the ears are tied into ristras, and hung outside to dry. Once the kernels are completely dehydrated, they are removed from the cob and stored until ready to use.
The dried kernels are small and wrinkled in appearance, slightly larger than a popcorn kernal. Chicos are cooked until they swell up to their former size, often in combination with beans or winter stews (a handful to a pot). The sun-dried corn has a sweet, fresh flavor. Corn roasted in an horno produces darker kernels, with a slightly smoky flavor.
Chicos are comfort food, whether eaten with beans or added to a stew. In New Mexico the Noberta Atenciomention of chicos often evokes nostalgia, sentimental reminiscing about family gatherings and a slower time. Such was the case for Olga Atencio, one of the owners of El Parasol in Española. Her family has lived in the Española valley for centuries.
How to make Chicos
1 pound chicos (available at El Potrero Trading Post)
1 ½ pounds bone in pork roast
3 cloves of garlic
½ onion, whole
Water to cover. Approx. 10 cups. Add more as needed.
5 red chile pods. Whole pods are preferable. Use red chile flakes or powder as an alternative. 1 T = 1 pod.
Salt to taste
Put all of the above in a stock pot (or crock pot).
Bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat for 6-8 hours until the corn is soft, adding more water as needed.
Yields: 8 servings
Serving Size: 1 serving
Calories: 400 | Protein:20 grams | Fat: 10 grams | Saturated Fat: 4 grams | Trans Fat: 0 grams | Carbohydrates: 30 grams | Dietary Fiber: 5 grams | Sugars: 2 grams | Cholesterol: 50 milligrams | Sodium: 500 milligrams | Vitamin D: 0 microgram | Calcium: 50 milligrams | Iron: 2 milligrams | Potassium: 400 milligrams
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are Chicos?
Chicos are a traditional Native American food made from dried corn kernels that have been roasted or smoked.
Where can I find Chicos?
Chicos are typically available at specialty grocery stores or online retailers that specialize in Native American or Southwestern cuisine. In this recipe, they’re available at El Potrero Trading Post.
Can I substitute fresh corn for Chicos?
While fresh corn can be used in some recipes, it won’t provide the same smoky flavor and texture as Chicos.
However, you can experiment with fresh corn if Chicos are unavailable.
How do I know when Chicos are done cooking?
Chicos are done cooking when they are soft and tender.
This typically takes around 6-8 hours of cooking on medium heat, as specified in the recipe.
Can I use a slow cooker instead of a stock pot?
Yes, a slow cooker (crock pot) can be used instead of a stock pot.
Simply follow the same instructions but adjust the cooking time accordingly based on your slow cooker’s settings.
Are Chicos healthy?
Chicos are a nutritious whole grain that provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
However, their health benefits can vary depending on how they are prepared and served.
Can I add other ingredients to the recipe?
Yes, you can customize the recipe to suit your taste preferences.
Additional ingredients like vegetables, herbs, or spices can be added for extra flavor.
How should I store leftover Chicos?
Leftover Chicos can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
They can also be frozen for longer storage.
What can I serve with Chicos?
Chicos can be served as a side dish alongside various meats, stews, or chili.
They can also be used as a base for salads or added to soups for extra texture and flavor.
Can I make Chicos ahead of time?
Yes, Chicos can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve.
They can also be cooked in large batches and frozen for future use.