| Newhall’s Merry Graham wins grand prize in 505SW recipe competition

Merry Graham from Newhall has won the grand prize in the national 505 Southwestern 25 Years of Flavor recipe competition.

505 Southwestern, the national leader in Hatch Valley green chili products, hosted the recipe contest as part of its larger “25 Years of Flavor” campaign. The contest called for creative recipe submissions using green chili, salsa and sauce products from 505 Southwestern’s Hatch Valley.

“We were blown away by the creativity and surprising flavor combinations in the recipes we received this year,” said Rob Holland, executive chairman of 505 Southwestern. “As we celebrate over two decades of flavor, it’s inspiring to see how our customers elevate the everyday with 505 Southwestern products.”

The contest attracted more than 230 high-quality recipe submissions for everything from traditional enchiladas and green chili stews to cocktails and comfort foods like burgers, mac and cheese and desserts. Notable entrees include a Southwest 505 Beef Wellington, Green Chile Fried Ice Cream, Green Chile 505 Peach Cobbler, Green Chile Strawberry Margarita, and three different lasagnas.

Recipes included a variety of 505 Southwestern products, including flame-roasted green chili, red chili enchilada sauce, pineapple-mango-jalapeno salsa, and red and green salsas. Bonus points were awarded to those who used multiple products in a given recipe and for sharing on social media using #25YearsOfFlavor and tagging @505southwestern.

Decided by a panel of judges, the Grand Prize went to Graham for his Air Fryer Southwestern Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon Rangoons recipe. This quick and easy appetizer includes Green Chili Salsa with Southwest 505 Chunks and Southwest 505 Flame Roasted Green Chili.

Graham will receive $2,500 and a trip to New Mexico this fall for the 505 Southwestern VIP Anniversary Party featuring celebrity chef Aaron May.

“I’m a chili lover and I love the taste that salsa and the Southwestern 505 chili give to my dishes,” Graham said. “When I read that the prize was a trip to New Mexico for the 505 Southwestern VIP Party, I just had to enter. I’m thrilled to have won and to be invited to celebrate 25 years of flavor .

Graham said she has always cooked with a Southwestern flair.

“When I first tasted the pot of 505 Southwestern Flame Roasted Green Chili, I was surprised, I said, ‘This tastes good to me! I’ve never said that about a jar of food before, that it tastes the same as me. But it tasted like what I like,” she said. “Usually I’ll say, ‘it needs more garlic, or more lime juice, or more or less heat.’ It tastes so fresh and a nice balance of flavors.

Graham began entering recipe competitions in 2009. The Santa Clarita Valley’s most accomplished amateur chef estimates she’s won more than $150,000 in cash and prizes.

Graham started his competitive cooking career with a trial, not a recipe.

“I was flipping through a magazine and saw an opportunity to win a trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival,” she said. The competition was sponsored by Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate.

“I had to write a paragraph about how you live ‘green’ without spending too much money,” Graham said. As the child of a tile contractor, Graham’s family made extensive use of broken and leftover tiles. “I wrote a paragraph about everything my family has done with the tile and won,” she said.

Graham said the great experiences she had at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival in June 2009 left her wanting more culinary adventures.
“As soon as I got home, I turned on my computer to research how to win other contests,” she said.

Graham and his family have lived at SCV since 1977.

His current passion is grilling and creating recipes for the grill. She uses the hashtag #grillinggrandma. Visit Merry Graham at Grilling Grandma and @GrillingGrandma on Instagram.

See Graham’s recipe blog at A Merry Recipe.

Graham is also a social media food influencer representing products and creating recipes for Primo Grills, Western BBQ Products and Kevin’s Natural Foods.

She was also tapped to appear on nationally televised cooking shows towards the end of 2022 and into 2023.

This year marks 25 years in business for 505 Southwestern. In 1997, local restaurateur Roy Solomon decided to put his famous green chili in a jar and started selling it to his loyal customers from the back of his restaurant. He quickly saw the potential of 505SW Flame Roasted Green Chile and made the decision to travel to Denver to officially launch his brand. Today, 25 years later, the business is thriving, having averaged growth of more than 20% per year for 10 consecutive years. The company’s longstanding commitment to New Mexico represents thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact in the region. The name “505” reflects where it comes from, 505 is the area code for Albuquerque, NM

As part of the celebration, 505 is donating a portion of sales for 25 weeks to the 505 Southwestern New Mexico True Scholar Program, a program that supports future generations of farmers.

Merry Graham’s Grand Prize Winning Air Fryer Southwestern Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon Rangoons

Description: A quick and easy appetizer that your tribe will love to make together, especially the kids. The Rangoons may look fancy and hard to fold, but oh my, it’s child’s play. Salsa Verde creamy corn sprinkled with smoked bacon, cilantro and green onions is the base of this addictive topping. And for that added green chili, a few tablespoons of 505 Southwestern Green Chili were added. Also grab this tub of 505 Southwestern Restaurant Style Salsa, as it makes a delicious dipping sauce for this fusion rangoon. And beware, make plenty, Bacon Rangoons go fast!


1/2 cup Southwestern 505 Green Chili Salsa

2 tablespoons 505 Southwest Flame Roasted Green Chili

4 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz Monterey jack cheese or pepper jack cheese, grated

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 green onions, finely chopped, divided

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped, divided

1/4 cup crumbled bacon or 4 slices cooked bacon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 ear of corn, kernels cut on the cob, about 1/2 cup

1/2 tablespoon rapeseed oil

1/2 package (6 oz) wonton wrappers

1/2 cup 505 Medium Southwestern Restaurant Style Salsa, plus more if needed.


In a medium bowl, combine 505 Southwest Chunky Green Chili Salsa, 505 Southwest Flame Roasted Green Chili, cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, 2 Tbsp. green onion, 2 tablespoons cilantro, crumbled bacon and cumin, until well combined. Put aside.

Mix corn kernels and oil together. Heat a cast iron skillet or skillet of your choice over medium-high heat. Spread the corn in a hot skillet, stirring only as needed to prevent it from burning. Once at least half of the corn is charred, transfer it to the bowl with the salsa verde and stir until well combined. Put aside. Tip: Avoid salting the corn while charring, as the bacon will add enough salt.

Place a wonton wrapper on a work surface lined with parchment paper or sandwich paper. Tip: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornstarch. Store the remaining wonton wrappers in the package, removing only one at a time.

Place 1/2 tablespoon of salsa verde cream cheese filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Use a wet finger to dampen the edges of the wrapper with water. Pull two corners that are diagonal from each other to the center, then the other two corners. Press to seal and form a pyramid or parcels.

Fry the Rangoons:

Method 1 Crisp in an Air Fryer:

Spray or brush exterior with oil. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. Carefully place a single layer of Rangoons on the air fryer rack. Working in batches, cook until Rangoons are golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Method 2 Crispy with hot oil:

Heat the canola oil, about 3 inches deep, in a medium saucepan, to 350°F to 370°F. Working in single layer batches, fry the Rangoons until well done. browned, about 4 minutes. Pat dry on a paper towel then quickly transfer to a baking rack. In a small serving bowl, combine 505 Medium Southwestern Restaurant Style Salsa and about 2 tablespoons green onions and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Place the bowl of salsa in the center of a serving platter lined with shredded cabbage or greens. Just before serving, arrange the Rangoons Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon around the salsa. Sprinkle Cotija cheese, cilantro and green onions over the entire platter.

Makes: 24 starters 1 bite

Author of the recipe: Merry from A Merry Recipe

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