la posta caldillo

La Posta is a restaurant in La Mesilla, on the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico, that has been in operation since 1939. It is still the busiest in the area. It occupies 10,000 square feet of an old adobe building built in 1840 that was at one time a stop on the old Butterfield Stagecoach Line. I first went there as a freshman at nearby New Mexico State University (then NM College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts) in 1952. It appeared old, even then, at 13 years, but it appears almost exactly the same today as it did back then. I go back yearly to NMSU homecoming, and, as a ritual, have lunch or dinner there on arrival and departure days. I consider it the gold standard for New Mexico style restaurants.

Caldillo in Spanish literally means “thin broth,” but in New Mexico it is far from that. There, it is a chunky green chile stew. Besides fixing it in my own home, I have eaten it only in New Mexico, and mostly at La Posta. I do not have their recipe, but I have eaten it enough to know what it is made of. I make mine only a little differently than they do, and my amendments are marked by asterisks (*) below.

  • 1 lb beef or pork, cubed
  • 6 oz onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup carrots, ½” dice
  • ½ cup celery, ½” dice
  • 1 medium potato, ½” dice
  • 25 oz (large can) green chile, diced, or green enchilada sauce*
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ head cabbage, diced finely*
  • 1 large flour tortilla, diced finely in food processor*
  • 2 jalapeņo chiles, seeded, veins removed* , and minced*
  • 6 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped*

Brown the meat in a little oil, add onions and garlic, and continue to brown the onions slightly. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Ladle into colorful bowls, sprinkle the cilantro on top, and serve with steamed flour tortillas.

Serves 4 to 6.