CORRALES — Chile is a key focus for the Southwest-style food recipes Jane Butel teaches clients to cook.
That’s because she values the health benefits.
“It’ll keep your arterial system flowing beautifully. It helps all over your body. It helps your complexion, your digestion,” she said.
There’s no shortage of ways Butel, who’s taught cooking classes since 1983, tries to incorporate chile into various foods.
Teaching classes from her Corrales home since around 2011, she said the notable items include green chile apple pie, green chile coconut cream pie, Aztec-inspired chile chocolate, red chile and cheddar cheese swirl bread and tamale rolls.
“I think people are fascinated by chiles, even if they haven’t had much of them,” she said. “I try to reassure those that are real sensitive (to chiles). Some men… their palate only has 10 different detectors of heat, and some women have as many as 200.”
Butel said she also educates people about the chiles themselves.
“Within any chile, the broader the shoulder, the broader the tip, the milder it will be. On average, there’s a 15,000 heat-unit range… The amount of moisture in the soil and on the leaves at the time it turns to a fruit — it’s a fruit, not a vegetable — determines its imprint and its heat,” she said.
Butel said she was living in New York City around the time she started planning her classes. She previously resided in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, prompting her to return to New Mexico to launch the classes in 1983.
“They became incredibly popular. We have people who have come from all over the world, from every continent except Antarctica,” she said, adding some of her clients sought her insight on starting a restaurant.
Butel, whose background includes publishing, marketing and restaurant consultation, said her recipes were inspired by a handful of cooking publications, including a few she wrote.
Butel’s cooking philosophy is simple.
“My whole theory on cooking is that you learn more by doing it,” she said. “You can watch somebody tie their shoelaces for a long time, and until you start trying to tie your own, you don’t really learn. So, I teach full participation all the time.”
The upcoming class schedule includes weekend classes Feb. 18-20 and April 29 through May 1, as well as a week-long class March 7-11. Other classes include “Chili It Up!” Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. and “Perfect Pies” March 24 at 5 p.m.
For more information or to register, call (505) 243-2622 or visit janebutelcooking.com.