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Posted March 22, 2012

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KANW Program Director Shares Recipe

Kevin Otero's recipe for Calabacitas con Carne is featured in the March issue of Albuquerque the Magazine.

Kevin Otero in the kitchen.

This story is being reproduced with permission from Albuquerque the Magazine.


Much of Kevin Otero’s life is rooted in New Mexico traditions. He’s the program director at KANW, 89.1 FM, a public radio station that specializes in New Mexico Music, and his go-to recipe is a New Mexican classic, calabacitas, but with a twist.

He’s in charge of programming the station, which means everything that comes out of the speakers is his responsibility, from hiring announcers, recording jingles and every song. The station offers nationally syndicated shows, such as Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion. KANW, though, is known for its devotion to New Mexico Music, a local rock-and-Spanish music, which is dominated by stars such as Al Hurricane, Tobias Rene and Gonzalo.

“It’s a culture that the native New Mexicans have grown up with. We may have borrowed the songs, but the style and the sound and the memories that come with those songs, that’s important,” Otero says. “When your grandfather would sing Flor de Las Flores or Las Mañanitas, it’s more than a song. It’s a culture and a language.”

And speaking of grandfathers, Otero learned to cook his favorite recipe from his abuelo. “It was either middle school or high school, I spent a week with him so he could teach me things as he was getting older: autos, handyman things and cooking,” Otero says.

Otero learned a lot in that week in Los Alamos, but cooking calabacitas is something that’s stayed with him. “I don’t know if they're something special, but he did put steak in it, or beef —and most people don’t put meat in it—and a little bit of Velveeta,” Otero says. “It tastes creamier.”

Otero, who has worked at several stations in town since the 1990s in Albuquerque, used his grandfather’s name as his on-air handle for several years, Matias Lujan. “That’s who I was for years,” he says.

Calabacitas con Carne

2-4 tbsp canola oil or shortening
1½ pounds cubed beef steak
4 zucchini squash, sliced
2 yellow squash, sliced
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup roasted green chile, chopped
2 tbsp cubed Velveeta
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil or shortening. Add the beef to the skillet and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sauté until well browned. Remove the beef and set aside, leaving the drippings in the skillet. Add the onions and sauté until they just begin to soften. Add the garlic, fresh corn and green chile to the onions. Sauté for two minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, season, and and
sauté until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Return the beef to the skillet and add the Velveeta. Stir until the Velveeta is melted and serve with fresh tortillas.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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