Competition yields new, inventive ways to cook with Pueblo's favorite food
Most residents would agree that you can’t talk about Pueblo without talking about the Pueblo chile pepper. The two are practically synonymous. From restaurants that boast menus full of the plant’s fiery flavors to the annual Chile & Frijoles Festival presented by Loaf ‘N Jug, the town never misses an opportunity to pay homage to the power of the pepper.
In 2016, the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Pueblo Chile Growers Association to sponsor the inaugural Spice Up Spring Pueblo Chile Recipe Competition. The contest challenged restaurateurs to create new, inspired recipes using certified Pueblo chiles – or chiles grown by a member of the Pueblo Chile Growers Association. Recipes were accepted in three categories – appetizer, entree and dessert. First place winners in each category received a $250 cash prize, a free yearlong membership in the Pueblo Chile Growers Association, two bushels of Pueblo chilies, a trophy and, of course, bragging rights for the rest of the year. The 2016 winning recipes were not only creative and inspiring, but made delicious additions to their creators’ established menus.
Milberger Farms, a chile producer, took first prize in the appetizer category with its Stuffed Pueblo Popper. The Pueblo Popper pepper is similar in taste to the popular Mira Sol chile pepper, but has a hollow center, perfect for stuffing. Milberger’s also operates a deli, which features such chile-inspired dishes as the White Trash sandwich, a grilled concoction of fried bologna, Pueblo chilies and potato chips; and the Italian Slopper, homemade Italian sausage smothered in green chile sauce and cheese.
Chile Lasagna & Truffles
Brues Alehouse scored twice, taking home the prizes for best entree, the Pueblo Chile Tortilla Lasagna, and best dessert, a Pueblo Chile Truffle. Brues’ Chef Brian Blasnek created the winning entree, a lasagna layered with corn tortillas, chicken and green chili. Pastry Chef Isabel Burson experimented with spicy and sweet flavors, mixing chocolate and the Pueblo chile to create her truffle dessert. Brues is no stranger to flavor experimentation, offering a large menu of inventive craft beers, many of which are brewed on site. Anchoring the Riverwalk District, Brues is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, with live music most weekends.