Nothing says “Fall” like green chili!

New Mexico Chile For Dummies!.

New Mexico Green and Red Chile… Visitors and newcomers to our state (those who think Chili only comes in a can), sometimes ask “What’s the big deal, It’s only Chile!”
IT’S ONLY CHILE? Those of us who live here in Southern New Mexico know it’s not “Just Chile”. It’s a culture – the rich blending of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American foods. It’s an environment – 360 days of sunshine a year, dry air with cool nights. It’s people – from  the farmers of the fertile Rio Grande Valley to the chile  vendors at the Hatch Chile Festival.

The world has discovered what we’ve known all along here in New Mexico …chile is habit-forming! 
Whether enjoying dishes made with pungent green chile or mellow dried red peppers,  we’re hooked! And while the same ingredient in chile that supposedly makes it slightly habit-forming (capsaicin) is also the one that may burn your tongue, it’s the delicious variety of flavors in chile cuisine that we love, not just the heat.
For our purposes here, we’re not going to explore Jalapenos, Habaneros, Cayenne, or the multitude of other peppers preferred mainly  for their  heat. When we say “Chile”, we’ll be talking about the long New Mexico Green/Red types, with names like “Big Jim”, “Rio Grande”,”Sandia”, etc.  In other parts of the country you’ll see similar (but not quite the same!) chile peppers called “Anaheim” peppers.  In our neck of the woods, it’s “Hatch” or “Mesilla Valley” chile that we crave.

Two Tasty Chiles…both from the same plant!
             Fresh Green Chile               Ristra of dried red chile

The heat of a chile pepper comes from a chemical called capsaicin, found in the membranes surrounding the seeds of the pepper and extending down the pod like “veins”. The heat can be reduced somewhat  by removing  these membranes, along with the seeds.
Chile is rich in nutritional value, as well as being delicious! These green beauties which we picked ourselves are ready for roasting and preparation.
Late Summer is Chile roasting time!

Go Here for instructions on Roasting
Green Chile at home (or watch the video below).

By Summer’s end the green chiles are ripening and changing to a rich ,deep red color. The chile flavor is changing also, becoming sweet and mellow, with a completely different taste from the green pods.
All over Southern New Mexico at this time of year you’ll see colorful hanging ristras, or strings of red chiles. These are not just pretty to look at. After the chiles are dried, they are the starting point for the lovely red chile sauce which is the basis of a multitude of red chile dishes.

Go here for detailed Instructions on how to use Dried Red Chile (or watch the video below).


3 thoughts on “Nothing says “Fall” like green chili!

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