Chile 101

Chile – both Red and Green – is an essential ingredient in New Mexican cuisine.

Sure, you can buy them already prepped and ready to go but the real chef knows they taste much better when bought in season and doing it yourself is so much more economical. This article will give you everything you need to become a chile pro so you can take your cooking to the next level.

How to Roast Fresh Chiles at Home

It’s easy in an oven, on top of a gas stove, or on an outdoor grill.‚Äč

Directions to perfect roasting

  1. Let’s start with green chiles, the ones most frequently roasted. Plan on twenty minutes for oven roasting, putting the green chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and blistering them at 450° F until the skins have blackened in many spots. Turn as needed for uniform scorching until the chiles look collapsed.

  2. If you are only roasting a couple of pods, hold them with tongs over the flame of a gas burner for a few minutes, turning to blacken all over, or use an asador, a wire-mesh griddle.

  3. On a gas or charcoal grill, place the green chiles on the grate over a hot fire, searing them on all sides for about ten minutes.

  4. Roast fresh red pods the same ways, but their higher moisture content will keep them from blistering and blackening as fully. To judge readiness, look for loosening skin and a deep brown shade.

How to Steam and Peel Fresh Chiles

After roasting chiles, steam them immediately to loosen the skins.

  1. Place pods in a Ziploc plastic bag or a covered bowl and let them sit five to ten minutes or until cool enough to handle.

  2. If dealing with any quantity of chiles, wear rubber gloves to avoid getting capsaicin (the substance that gives the pods heat) on your hands; it doesn’t wash off easily and can irritate the skin.

  3. Strip off the peel. You may find yourself wanting to run water over the chiles to help with the process since some peel is bound to stick. Don’t do it any more than absolutely necessary, however, because it dilutes flavor. Instead, rinse your gloved hands under the running water.

  4. Remove stems and seeds unless you are planning to stuff the chiles, in which case it’s better to leave the stem and any seeds still attached to avoid weakening the pod.