Friday, June 4, 2010

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Mistela de Chimajá or Chimayo Whiskey, an Old New Mexico Recipe

Another wild substitute favored by Santa Fe cooks is chimajá, but its dried leaves and ground roots are not widely available. The root was the main flavoring for Chimayó whiskey, one of the stuffs of New Mexican drinking legends.

~ Huntley Dent
The Feast of Sante Fe

Chimayo whiskey, chimajá whisky, or mistela de chimajá — whatever you care to call it, I can’t make any. Not right now. We have plenty of whiskey, but we don’t have any chimajá around here and, as far as I can tell, the season for gathering it has passed. The chimajá, that is, not the whiskey. Also called spring parsley, the wild-harvested plant grows in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

I’ve never made it. Can’t vouch for it. But homemade liquors are a huge draw regardless of where they come from. This recipe for Mistela de Chimajá comes from Erna Fergusson’s 1945 Mexican Cookbook. In this context, Mexican is understood as New Mexican. For those with access to spring parsely, I offer…
Mistela de Chimajá

1 gallon whisky
1 quart water
2 cups dried chimajá root
1 pound sugar new line for sticks cinnamon
1 whole dried orange peel

(Orange peel must be very dry; otherwise a bitter taste will result.)

Boil sugar, cinnamon, orange people, chimajá root, and water for ½ hour. Strain and add whisky. After two weeks the drink is ready, but it improves steadily with age. It attains about the consistency of a liqueur. It was the inevitable Christmas drink.

Some recipes call for no boiling. The ingredients were mixed and set aside in a jug which was shaken well each day for two weeks. The liqueur was then drained off and was ready.

Works Cited
Dent, Huntley (1993) The Feast of Sante Fe. Fireside, New York.
Fergusson, Erna (1945) Mexican Cookbook. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

1 comment:

Amy Stewart said...

I love these kind of recipes. I'd be a little careful about foraging for wild plants, though--especially plants in the carrot family. I wrote a response on my blog: