It’s about that time for the pecan harvest in Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona, and that means some tasty holiday nuts (like some people I know) are on the way. Pecans have taken away the title of New Mexico’s number one food crop (sob!). In 2007, New Mexico pecan growers were dancing in their groves after becoming the leading U.S. pecan-producing state in 2006, displacing Georgia, typically the national champ. The 46 million-pound crop was valued at about $85 million, with grower prices at about $1.85 per pound. Last year, New Mexico produced 68 million pounds of pecans in the shell in 2009 to rank No. 2; Georgia produced about 79 million pounds to come in first. Texas came in third. But New Mexico recorded the highest price per pound in the shell — $1.76. Arizona ranked second at $1.72 per pound, and California was third with $1.51 per pound.
So instead of worrying about which crop is first, let’s think about combining them in a superbly spicy holiday snack!
Although it’s easy to prepare and extremely tasty, believe me, this ain’t your grandmother’s cheese ball. Although this type of appetizer has graced party tables for years, this one will soon become a new favorite. I use pecans because they are so plentiful here, but substitute walnuts or almonds if you prefer. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
1/2 cup chopped green New Mexico chile, which has been roasted and peeled
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chile
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Combine the chile and the cheeses in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until firm.
Toss the pecans in the ground chile until well coated.
Roll the cheese between 2 pieces of wax paper to form a log. Then roll the log in the crushed nuts and chile for 8 hours before serving.
To serve, place the cheese log on a platter and arrange crackers around the cheese and place a knife on the platter for spreading.
Yield: 1 log
Heat Scale: Medium
For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.