Hencho En Las Cruces: Bottling the Flavors of the Mesilla Valley

December 7, 2017 pixelmark

chile sauce

From its humble beginnings in a backyard kettle to its current place on store shelves around New Mexico, Las Cruces’ own Ol’ Gringo Chile Company has been packaging the fresh, spicy flavors of home for 25 years.

Ol Gringo Chile Company was begun in 1992 by a mother and daughter of the locally famed Franzoy farming family. As legend has it, family patriarch Ed Berridge—the Ol’ Gringo himself—began something of a family tradition, cooking a large kettle of red chile in the yard of the family’s Garfield homestead.

This end-of-season tradition—Ed in the yard, cooking his chile, as family, friends and offspring lined up by the dozens—soon grew and grew. In time, the mother and daughter began jarring their red chile for guests to take with them; they soon added a green chile sauce to the line and moved into a small commercial kitchen off Archuleta Road to try to keep up with demand.

Things carried on as such until 2014, when the Schneider family—father Philip and daughter Andrea, founders and owners of Andele Restaurant—set out to jar and sell the family restaurant’s famed salsas. While searching for someone to jar the restaurant’s salsas to its own high standards, the elder Schneider came across Ol’ Gringo Chile Company, which had long-ago outgrown its small prep kitchen. With the ladies of Ol’ Gringo ready to get out of the business and the Schneiders eager to begin, the timing was just right and the Schneiders purchased the business in 2014.

In the three years since she’s acquired the business, Rachel Schneider has grown it leaps and bounds, upgrading its tiny, two-person kitchen to a modern—and spacious—food service space capable of handling more than 1,000 jars a day. She’s also expanded the Ol’ Gringo line to include several different salsas and introduced a few new selections to shelves, not to mention adding a handful of much-needed jobs to the local economy.

“We see it all the time, where people grew up here or went to college here, found their favorite restaurant and moved on to wherever, and they want a little taste of home,” Rachel says.

As a newly-reformed Austinite, to this I can attest—lots of the spicy stuff that got me through that Tex-Mex culinary nightmare was packed right here in Las Cruces at Ol’ Gringo’s Mesilla facility.

The company produces its own Ol’ Gringo Chile Company line of salsas—New Mexico and New Mexico Gold, in varying heat levels, the latter of which took second place in the State Fair’s 2016 Battle of the Salsas—along with a red and a green sauce, each available in mild, medium and hot. They salso produce Aztec Habanero Delight, Aztec Soltelo (chile de arbol salsa), Aztec Meoqui (extra hot tomatillo and chile de arbol salsa), and Aztec Pueblo (jalapeño salsa), as well as Andele’s salsa-bar favorites tomatillo, chile de arbol, smoky chipotle and, of course, its fiery and flavorful traditional salsa.

chile sauceA handful of local and regional favorites also have their salsas produced and jarred with Ol’ Gringo Chile Company. Any Las Crucen (or ex-pat) should be able to find a favorite on Ol’ Gringo’s shelves. Restaurant clients who trust Ol’ Gringo with their products include Dick’s Cafe and Chilitos in Las Cruces; L&J Cafe and Riviera Restaurant in El Paso; Chile Fanatic and Hatch Chile Express, from Hatch; Fresh Chile Company from Las Cruces; and Salsa Patria from Silver City.

And it’s not just chile: Las Cruces Italian mainstay Lorenzo’s has turned to Ol’ Gringo to jar its sugo (tomato sauce), along with a new green chile version of the popular red sauce. Another Las Crucen has tasked the company with concocting his El Gordo’s Bloody Mary Mix, made with New Mexico-grown red chile.

If someone you know has left New Mexico and is in dire need of something spicy, might I recommend the company’s salsa taster package, stuffed with one Ol’ Gringo NM Salsa (hot); one Ol’ Gringo NM Gold Salsa (hot); one Chile Fanatic Salsa (hot); one Andele Traditional; one Andele Chile de Arbol; one Andele Chipotle; one Andele Tomatillo; one Dick’s Cafe Salsa; one Aztec Meoqui; one Aztec Habanero; one Aztec Sotelo; and one Aztec Pueblo.

Find Ol’ Gringo products at most area grocery and food stores, including Wal-Mart or at:
Andele Mercado
1950 Calle del Norte
(inside Andele Restaurant)
facebook.com/andelemercado

chile sauce

Ol’ Gringo Recipes

Looking for something cozy, tasty, and super-simple to whip up for dinner? Made with jars of Ol’ Gringo products, these belly-warming recipes are easy, quick, and require minimal ingredients, making them ideal for those busy weekday evenings.

Ol’ Gringo Frito Pie
1 bag of Fritos (10.25 oz.)
1 lb. ground beef, browned
½ onion, diced
1 jar Ol’ Gringo Red Chile Sauce
½ cup water
½ lb. grated cheese

Add water to red sauce and simmer over low heat. Place a layer of Fritos in an 8×8” casserole dish. Layer with ground beef, onions, Ol’ Gringo Red Sauce and cheese. Repeat sequence. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Ol’ Gringo Avocado Lime Chicken Soup
1 jar Ol’ Gringo Gourmet Green Chile Sauce
8 cups chicken broth
2 large chicken breasts, cubed and cooked
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cups white rice, cooked
Fresh avocado

Combine ingredients in a pot and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add avocado and additional squeeze of lime when serving.

Ol’ Gringo Green Chile Chicken Posole

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 cups chicken broth
1 #10 can hominy, drained and rinsed
2 jars Ol’ Gringo Gourmet Green Chile Sauce (Hot, Medium, or Mild to suit your taste)
½ bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

Boil chicken breasts in broth until cooked. Remove chicken from broth and shred finely. All Ol’ Gringo Gourmet Green Chile Sauce, shredded chicken, half of cilantro, and hominy to chicken both. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, and cabbage. Add a squeeze of lime for a zesty flavor!

Find recipes and order gift baskets and cases of your favorite products delivered right to your front door at: Olgringo.com

The post Hencho En Las Cruces: Bottling the Flavors of the Mesilla Valley appeared first on Las Cruces Magazine.

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