Cultural Foods

Food has always had a direct connection to our soul. Nothing seems to be as comforting as a dish that is a family favorite, a dish that tastes like home. Food can sooth a broken heart, warm a soul that is far from home and remind us of the feeling of being next to the ones we love.

Like arts, music, and dance, food reflects the culture an area. Whether it is the method by which it is grown or raised, prepared, served, preserved, or eaten, food is perhaps one of the most personal and perpetuating means by which family and community traditions are kept alive. Within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, where agriculture has served as the foundation of the region’s economy, food takes on an even greater importance.

The traditional foods of the area are simple and can be obtained locally or from family gardens. Maiz(corn), frijoles(beans), carne(meat), calabacitas(small summer squash) and tortillas(flat bread) form the staples.

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”-Lin Yutang

Green Chile
Green Chile


  • Pork shoulder
  • 1 cup diced roasted green chili
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 can diced stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion1/2 Tbsp Salt* to taste

Green Chile Recipe :

  • Trim excess fat off the shoulder, dice meat.
  • Brown diced shoulder, add minced garlic and flour
  • Add onions
  • When onions have softened, add diced chili.
  • Add about 3 cups of water and, bring to a boil, reduce heat.
  • Add tomatoes and simmer 30-40 min.

No one can make a tortilla like your Abuela, but you can try!


Makes about 6 large tortillas

  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 1 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lard
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water

Tortillas Recipe :

  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bow. Add the lard or shortening. Work the fat into the flour with your hands until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  • Add the water.
  • Mix with your hands until it comes together.
  • Gather the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface, kneading for about a minute until it becomes smooth. Let it rest at least 15 minutes.
  • Pinch off an egg-size ball.
  • Shape the dough into a fat disk. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • On a floured surface, give each disk a few quick passes with a roller, pressing from the center toward the edges. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat until the circle is between 1/8- and -inch thick and 10–12 inches in diameter.
  • Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over high heat. Add one circle of dough and cook until large bubbles form across the surface. Check if brown spots have appeared on the bottom. If so, flip the tortilla and cook another 30–45 seconds, until it browns on the other side. Place the tortillas under a towel while you cook the others.
  • Eat with butter and jam or with red or green chile.
Red Enchiladas

Red Enchiladas Recipe :

  • Theresa Lobato – San Luis
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese
  • Serves 4 Red Chile Sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 Tbsp red chile powder
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Sauce: Cook flour in pan with oil on low heat until a light golden color. Add chile powder and stir away from heat while adding water. Return to heat, add garlic and salt and continue stirring on low heat and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
Enchiladas: Heat oil in pan on stove. Dip tortillas in oil one at a time and drain. Fill tortilla with cheese and onion and roll or serve flat and stacked. Place two rolled tortillas in middle of plate and pour red chile sauce over them. Sprinkle grated cheese over the sauce and put in a 350° oven until cheese melts. Optional: Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes, diced green onions and a dollop of sour cream.


A highly regarded food, often served for special occacions, chicos are soaked in water and baked in an adobe horno(oven) overnight. After they have dried for a week or ten days they are eaten with carne or frijoles.

Beans and Chicos Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c dried beans ((a pinto style bean)
  • 1/2 c chicos*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 11 c water

After Cooking sea salt (to taste or 2 t)
freshly cracked black pepper (to taste or 1t)
Instructions Add all ingredients to your pressure cooker. I used 11 c of water, and cooked on high pressure, natural pressure release for 50 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped sweet white onions & chopped cilantro. Serves 8-10


Sopaillas Recipe

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons shortening or manteca (lard)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cut in shortening.
2. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add water to dry ingredients and work into dough.
3. Knead dough until smooth, cover, and set aside for 20 minutes.
4. Heat 2 inches of shortening in a heavy pan at medium-high heat.
5. Roll dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut dough into 4-inch squares and fry until golden on both sides, turning once. (sopaipillas will puff and become hollow shortly after being placed in the shortening.) Place on towels.

Carne Adobada

Carne Adobada Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • T Tbsp red chile caribe
  • 5 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 pounds thick shoulder pork chops


Warm the lard in a sauce pan. mix in  Remove the fat from the pork and cut the meat into 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch cubes. Stir pork into the chile sauce and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
The following day, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Use butter to coat large baking dish, so it doesn’t stick.
Add the marinated carne adovada with sauce into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 3 hours, stirring once at an hour and a half into baking. At 2 and a half hours, remove foil (to thicken sauce).
Serve hot with homemade tortillas.

Green Chili Stew
  • 1lb ground beef and 1lb ground pork, or 2lbs of your choice of meat
  • 1 can (28oz) diced potatoes or fresh
  • 4potatoes peeled and diced
  • 3 four oz cans of green chilies or fresh green chilis
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried corriander


1. Brown meat in dutch oven.
2.Add all ingredients to the pot, add more water if needed and simmer 45 min.

Chokecherry (Capulin) Jelly
  1. Pick wild berries when they are ripe- deep red berries
  2. Cover berries with water and cook until the fruit pulp falls away from the seeds(3.5 lbs to 3 cups water).
  3. Strain juice.
  4. Add sugar to taste, the amount varies from family recipe to family recipe but 3.5 cups juice and 6 cups sugar will make a nice flavor.
  5. Add in a box of pectin. Before pect in was widely available, people used a specific ratio of green berries in place of pectin.
  6. Boil for 1-2 minutes, skim off the foam, can it up and enjoy!
Frito Pie


  • 1lb of ground beef
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 Tbsp dried chili powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pinto beans, or fresh cooked beans
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Onions, diced

1. Cook meet in skillet.
2. Add in flour and stir to brown flour
3. Mix chili powder with 1 cup of water and add to meat.
4. Add in remaining water, salt to taste and simmer until thickened.
5. Add in beans.
6. Put fritos in a bowl or cut open an individual frito bag and top chips with chili mixture.
7. Garnish with shredded cheese, lettuce, tomoatos and onions.

Pinto Beans

1.Sort 1lb dried beans to remove any small stones or shriveled beans.
2. Soak Beans: Place the beans in a bowl with double the amount of water to beans and allow to soak overnight; or place beans in a stock pot covered by 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil lightly for 15 minutes with a lid on. Turn off heat and allow to soak for 90 minutes.
3. Drain beans and use fresh water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
4. Cook 3-4 hours until tender. Periodically check that water is still covering the beans and that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if needed.


For centuries the crops of corn, beans and squash have been at the center of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. The trio is called “the three sisters” because these three plants thrive together, much like sisters. Corn, like an older sister, offers the beans needed support. Beans, the giving sister, takes nitrogen from the air and converts it to a form that can be absorbed by plant roots, supporting the health of all three plants. Squash, the little sister, has large leaves that shade the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds. A diet of corn, beans and squash is easy to grow and provides a balanced diet. These crops were also important because they could be dried and used through out the year.

  • 10 Calabacitas or 4-6 medium summer squash, sliced and halved
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 can of corn kernels or fresh or frozen corn
  • 4tsp oil or butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in skillet.
2. Saute onion and squash and corn.
3. Salt and pepper to taste.

Zoraia Barroa


Panocha Recipe

  • 2. cups sugar
  • 2.5 qts. water
  • 6 cups wheat germ
  • 4 cups flower
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Carmalize sugar, add water and boil till sugar is disolved. Set aside until lukewarm. Mix wheat germ and flour thoroughly. Add to carmalized water. Stir until free of lumps. Boil mixture slowly for two hours. Place uncovered in oven for one and a half hours or until golden brown. Before removing, add butter and brown sugar. Let set overnight after stirring well. This boils down considerably.


Posole, translated as “hominy” is a traditional stew that has a long ritual history among the Aztecs. Since Maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs, posole was made to be consumed on special occasions to celebrate the creation of man. Meso-Americans believed the god Quetzalcoati made man from masa (corn-meal dough). As a result, corn took on a religious significance. The kernels were soaked in a mixture of ground limestone (farther north, they used ashes to cure the corn) and water, soaked for several days then dried. Processing the corn in this way allowed the corn to be preserved for several years while keeping fresh taste and free from vermin, and allowed the release of a multitude of important nutrients to become accessible for digestion. In the “General History of Things from New Spain” Fray Bernardino de Sahagun mentioned during the festivities to honor the god Xipe, the Emperor was served a massive dish of pozolli-crowned with the thigh of a sacrificed prisoner. After the conquest of the Aztec Empire cannibalism was banned and pork became the new meat added to the dish. Posole didn’t arrive in the Rio Grande Valley and the San Luis Valley until was brought by the Spanish in the 1600s. These cultures took the posole recipe and adapted it to make their own, and it was become a common food of the heritage area, especially during Christmas.


  • 1 bag of frozen or dry hominy
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 large pork steaks, with bone in
  • 1 Tbsp salt or more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili caribe
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Place everything into a large crock pot. Cook on low at least 12 hours. “Cook it to death” for the best flavor. Make sure the pozole really “pops” and is soft when eaten.



These crisp cultural cookies are flavored with cinnamon and anise, and are a yearly tradition for many Hispanic families in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. These cookies are the result of centuries of influence brought by local and indigenous customs. These biscuits originated in Spain, where they were called mantecados, and date back to the 16th century, a time when the region of Andalusia experienced a surplus of grains and pork products. The roots of this cookie took on greater significance during Mexico’s Battle of Puebla in 1862, when Mexicans overthrew the French-backed Emperor Maximilian (Celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo). It is said that Mexican women wanted a commemorative cookie and used tin cans to cut the cookies to symbolize stamping out the French. The cookie symbolizes freedom and victory and has also become strongly associated with the Christmas season. They are often offered to the posadistas—the people who participate in Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration where a nightly procession re-enacts Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. Traditionally, the procession is always refused “lodging”, though the hosts often provide refreshments and biscochitos. Luminaria bonfires were lit to provide light and warmth for the posadistas.


Makes approximately 5 dozen thin cookies The traditional shapes are stars, circles and crescents

  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy or rum
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Biscochitos Recipe :

  • In a stand mixer, cream together lard and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. With mixer running on low, add egg, vanilla extract, brandy, and anise seeds and mix until homogeneous. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix just until dough forms into cohesive ball.
  • Form dough into two cylinders about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Chill for 2 hours or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze logs tightly wrapped for several months. Defrost in refrigerator for 1 day before using.
  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and set aside. Cut cylinders into 1/4 inch disks and on ungreased cookie sheets leaving 1/2-inch gap between cookies. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  • Dip rim of each cookie into cinnamon sugar mixture. Let cool on racks and store at room temperature in airtight container for up to 5 days.

For centuries the crops of corn, beans and squash have been at the center of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. The trio is called “the three sisters” because these three plants thrive together, much like sisters. Corn, like an older sister, offers the beans needed support. Beans, the giving sister, takes nitrogen from the air and converts it to a form that can be absorbed by plant roots, supporting the health of all three plants. Squash, the little sister, has large leaves that shade the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds. A diet of corn, beans a.nd squash is easy to grow and provides a balanced diet. These crops were also important because they could be dried and used through out the year.

Farm Brewery

Eight decades and four generations ago, Ray Coody homesteaded land that has grown from a sustainable family farm into the Colorado Malting Company and most recently into the Colorado Farm Brewery. The Colorado Malting Company sells their malt to roughly 35 companies around the world including some big names like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company and Goose Island Beer Company and local names like the San Luis Valley Brewing Company, Square Peg Brewery, Crestone Brewery and Three Barrel Brewing Company.

The Colorado Farm Brewery opened in 2017 and uses barley, rye, hops, artesian well water and a strain of yeast native to the property that are grown, harvested, processed, brewed and served on the property. Founder of the malting company and head brewer, Josh Cody, spearheads the operation. Cody is passionate about the craft and his businesses that supports his wife, three sons and three daughter, ranging from 2 to 12 years old. It’s a family operation today that is reminiscent of its past. A collar from the mule, that was used to clear the land of chico bushes for the original farm, that belonged to Josh’s grandfather hangs next to the bar. The bar itself, along with the tables, countertops and wood trim, are crafted from a single tree that grew on the property until a gust of wind knocked it over.

With 10 beers on tap and Root Beer, they feature indoor and outdoor seating with horseshoes, a kids play park,rotating food options, live music and incredible views! The Colorado Farm Brewery is an immersive experience you’ll want to see.

SLV Brewery

The San Luis Valley Brewing Company is a small batch craft brewery and restaurant that opened its doors in downtown Alamosa in 2006. Scott and Angie Graber started the family owned establishment in order to offer craft beers, great food and a unique atmosphere.

The building, located on San Juan Ave. and Main Street was one once home to the San Juan Bank, when Alamosa was growing into a booming railroad town. Local designer Chris Gosar created the rustic yet modern dining atmosphere to reflect its history and it has become a go to spot for locals and travelers alike. Behind the bar you can still see the banks vault door featured as the centerpiece of the pour station.

They make 7 distinctive year round beers and well over a dozen seasonal brews. The menu features local beef and bison as well as locally famous Gosar sausages: the Sausage Sampler goes great with the Beer Sampler if you are looking to try it all. The Menu and has diverse selection of pub fare and fine dining including appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, green chili pasta, trout, steak and a great kids menu. One brew that is a must try is the distinctive Valle Caliente, a Mexican beer infused with green chili. They host several block parties throughout the summer months including the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration, Rails and Ales Block Party, Rodeo Dance and Street Party and offer local and traveling live music year round. Check their calendar for event dates!

Square Peg Brewery

Mark Martinez and Derek Heersink are lifelong friends who met in the third grade and went on to open Square Peg Brewery in downtown Alamosa in 2017. Martinez is the head brewer and Heersink is the resident farmer and business/marketing manager. Their beers are “Farm to Tap”, which means they grow the barley and alfalfa they use to brew their genuine craft three barrel brews on a local Centennial Farm owneDerek’s family has been farming in the San Luis Valley since 1897. d by Heersink and in operation since

The same year they opened they entered a beer in the Great American Beer Festival and won a gold medal in the “Historical Beer” category for their Waverly Tulip, which is a version of a Dutch kuit beer. It is an brew made from malted oats, wheat, barley and bittered with sweetgale. Their best selling beer is an American Lager called The Common which is an approachable beer that anyone can enjoy.

Square Peg is located on Main Street in Alamosa and housed in an original downtown building that was once home to Husung Hardware Store during the Railroad boom years. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places in Architecture and Engineering for its Art Deco Style, and was built in 1936.