Chicos are dried kernels of sweet corn that have been part of the Pueblo diet for centuries. Made from whole ears of corn traditionally steamed in the husk in an outdoor horno and then dried for days, chicos have a sensationally smoky, sweet flavor. Norma and Hutch Naranjo, who offer cooking classes at the Feasting Place from their house on Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, introduce this uniquely New Mexican ingredient to their guests from around the world. “It’s become a delicacy because of the long process of making chicos,” says Norma, who shared this recipe for chicos, adapted from her cookbook, The Four Sisters: Keeping Family Traditions Alive (2021). It’s been passed down by her ancestors over hundreds of years. Don’t have an horno? No problem—you can make this recipe using dried chicos sourced from New Mexico farmers.

1 pound dried chicos

2 to 2½ pounds stew meat (bison, short ribs or other beef, elk, venison, or pork), cubed

1 onion, diced

Garlic salt to taste

Serves 6 to 10

  1. Cook chicos with 16 to 20 cups of water in large pot over medium heat for approximately 4 hours, until chicos are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, brown meat in a large pot, then add onion and cook until translucent. Add 8 to 10 more cups of water and cook for 2½ hours, until meat is soft. Strain juice from meat-and-onion mixture and add mixture to chicos. Add garlic salt to taste.
  3. Boil the meat mixture with the chicos for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the flavors marry.

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