Roasting Chile is a Fall Gardening Tradition

The aroma of green chiles roasting on the grill signals the gardening season is over and fall is beginning.

chiles-on-grill-blogIt’s difficult to believe summer has come and gone because it seems like it never arrived. In spite of unseasonably cool weather, my pepper plants produced perfect pods. Now it’s time for roasting.

Roasting green chile is a southwestern tradition and in New Mexico and throughout Colorado, nearly every market or roadside vegetable stand has a gas-powered chile roaster cranking out charred chiles by the bushel.

Green chiles, like Big Jim, Anaheim and Sandia, require roasting so the thin skin can be removed prior to using them in recipes. Chiles that are 4-6 inches in length make for easier peeling, but jalapeño peppers can also be roasted for a nice smoky flavor.

If you want to learn more about chiles, check out The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. You can even buy seeds there for the “Ghost Chile” (Bhut Jolokia) which is about 100 times hotter than a jalapeños at more than one million Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

Roasting and freezing your own chiles can save big bucks at the grocery store and it’s easy to do. Even if you didn’t grow your own this season, you can always buy a bushel and fire up the grill for some roasting fun.

Here’s what you need to get started:

Any amount of long green chiles such as Big Jim, Anaheim, Pueblo or Sandia. Poblano chile peppers and jalapeños can also be roasted.
Outside grill or indoor broiler oven.
Cookie sheet(s)
Metal tongs
Thin plastic gloves
Heavy plastic bag or large bowl
Freezer bags or airtight containers

Roasting instructions:

Rinse chile peppers and let dry.
Preheat grill or the broiler unit of the oven.
Place peppers directly on the grill or on a cookie sheet for the oven.
Roast using high heat and turning peppers frequently to evenly blister the skin until black on all sides (about 5 minutes each side).
Remove  from grill or broiler using tongs.
Place in a thick plastic bag or a bowl covered with a damp cloth to help loosen the skin.
Let peppers sit until cool enough to handle, about 15 or 20 minutes.
Don plastic or thin rubber gloves to protect hands from juices. Caution: Avoid touching eyes or face with hands as the chile juice is potent and can cause extreme discomfort.

To remove peel:

Cut off stem end of chile.
Slit pepper lengthwise from stem to tip.
Flatten and use the side of knife blade to scrape out seeds and veins.
Peel skins, leaving the juicy flesh behind.
Repeat this process until all of the chiles are seeded and peeled.
Let cool and package in airtight containers for the refrigerator or freezer.

Roasted green chile are an important ingredient for making Mexican dishes or adding to soups and stews for a southwestern flavor. Here’s my recipe for a salsa that can be served as a snack, appetizer or condiment:

Easy Chunky Salsa

4 small tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
½ cup (or more) roasted green chile peppers, roughly chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to combine flavors.

Do you have any favorite green chile recipes you’d like to share? Please add them here!


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