Classic Colorado Foods
Colorado has grown rapidly in the past decade. More and more people have started moving to the state, the State’s capital of Denver and other cities across the state have grown in size. Cities have further developed their downtown areas, making way for new businesses, residential buildings, and restaurants. A lot of the population of Colorado is not native to the state, so with that comes a mix of cultures and a mix of cuisine. When you think of classic foods in New York, you might think of pizza and bagels. When you think of classic food in Texas, you might think of Tex Mex. With Colorado, there is not one cuisine that remains dominant, but a few individual foods that you should be sure to try if you find yourself in the Rocky Mountain State.
Green Chili, or Chili Verde, is maybe the most classic menu item you will see in Colorado. It would actually be extremely difficult to find a restaurant that does not have some kind of variation of Green Chili on their menu. Green Chili can be classified as a range of things. It can be as runny as a soup and you can eat it that way. It can be a thick gravy used as a sauce to smother burritos or to dip chips into. However you want to try Colorado Green Chili, you will get a sense of why this is such a Colorado classic food.
Green chili is a variety of New Mexican chile peppers. The Colorado Green Chili recipe came to be when Italian immigrants were shown the natives in Pueblo, Colorado growing these green chilis. The collaboration between these two cultures led to the Colorado Green Chili we know and love today.
Those who are local to the Southwest know that Colorado is not the only state with a famous Green Chili. New Mexico has their own variety of Green Chili and people are passionate about which is better. The difference really comes down to the kind of chile peppers used to make the dish. In Colorado, green chili requires the use of Pueblo chilies, which are comparable to moderate jalapeno peppers. In New Mexico, green chili is made with Hatch Green Chiles, comparable in heat to a poblano pepper. Pueblo chile peppers are grown at a higher altitude and therefore have a thicker skin than hatch green chiles do, giving them a different taste than hatch chile peppers.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Rocky Mountain Oysters may sound like a surprising food item for a landlocked state nowhere near the ocean. In reality however, rocky mountain oysters are not seafood in the slightest. They are actually made from bull or bison testicles. These little pieces of meat are breaded and fried up, usually served with a spicy cocktail sauce and pickles.
If the thought of eating these Colorado delicacies grosses you out, do not worry, you’re not alone. Some say that these little fried bites taste like fried chicken. If you believe the people who say that, then maybe you should give this snack a try!
Yes, you can eat more of a bison than just the testicles! Bison have roamed and resided in the mountain plain states for centuries. They were here far before Colorado was a state and they are still a popular source of food for Colordans today!
Colorado is the fourth largest bison producer in the nation. The grassy plains and cold winters are the perfect habitat to raise these roaming bison. Bison tastes similar to more traditional sources of red meat such as cattle. Bison is lower in fat than beef and lower in calories in general. Bison are typically raised without any hormones or antibiotics, which makes bison meat preferable to beef in a few different ways.
You’ll find bison meat in the form of burgers, steak, or even meatballs. Bison meat can be presented in most of the ways that beef can, but in some western towns, bison is a must try! When you are looking for a great piece of steak or a burger, you should give bison a go.
Colorado Mountain Style Pizza
Known as Colorado-style pizza or Colorado mountain pie is a unique kind of pizza that you don’t see in many other places. Colorado style-pizza has a thick crust that is braided together and made with honey instead of sugar. The braided crust acts as a wall around the interior of the pizza, where you can pile on whatever you want! Another unique trait of Colorado style-pizza is that it is usually served with hot honey. You are meant to pour the honey over the dough of the pizza but if you want, you can put it on the whole thing!
One of the most famous restaurants in Colorado for this style of pizza is Beau Jo’s. Beau Jo’s is a local Colorado chain that specializes in this kind of mountain pie. When you eat at a Beau Jo’s restaurant, you will get the full experience the mountain style pizza demands. With so many kinds of pizza to choose from and a honey dispenser at every table, you will get a great sense as to what Colorado-style pizza is about.
Go to any farmer’s market or grocery store in Colorado from Spring until early Fall and you will see stand after stand that reads “Palisade Peaches”. In western Colorado, once the Rocky Mountains begin to cease and lead into a more desert-like landscape, lies the small town of Palisade. Long ago, farmers redirected water from the Colorado River, straight to Palisade, making the dry and arid landscape more hospitable for farming. Palisade today is a peach-growing haven and they are delicious! Growing fruit at a high altitude gives them a special taste, so these peaches are very different from peaches that are shipped into the state.
No matter where you find yourself in Colorado, you should be able to find a place to try all of these Colorado classics. Don’t miss an opportunity to try some classic Colorado foods. Even if it is something you think you might not enjoy like honey on a pizza or bison testicles….give it a shot!