There’s a saying I heard once that stuck with me, and the longer I live away from home, the more true it is: A day without chile is like a day without sunshine. And if there’s one thing you need to know about me it’s that I’m pretty passionate about my chile.
Growing up in New Mexico means that green chile is a staple in the kitchen and on our food. Whenever you eat out at a New Mexican restaurant, the server asks you “red or green,” implying do you want your meal smothered in red chile or green chile. Of course you can always skip the chile, or ask for it on the side if you’re nervous about the heat level, or you could go one step further and go for a mixture of the two. I almost always ask for “Christmas,” because why have one when you can have both?
Every August a new crop of chile is ready, and chile lovers flock to get it roasted. Just about every corner in New Mexico has a chile roasting stand set up, and if you aren’t sure where to find it, just follow the smell. The aroma is overwhelming when those peppers start roasting; the scent wafts in every direction, and it almost literally makes your mouth water.
Since we don’t live in New Mexico any more, we bring our chile home with us. Literally.
I head to the store, buy our case or two of fresh chile, and then I get it roasted right then and there.
The waiting is the hardest part. You see your chile go round and round, all while you smell its deliciousness. When the chile is ready (nice and black from the charred blisters all over it), they dump it all in a trash bag and tie it up. This is where the magic happens.
You want the chile to sweat (baby, sweat) and get nice and delicious. After a few hours we pop open the bags, take a deep breath of the awesomeness that’s inside, and get to work.
My mom and I set up shop in her living room with trash cans, cheap table cloths on the floors to catch the chile drippings, bowls of clean water, towels for our chile to sit on after it’s peeled, gloves for our hands, and (a pro tip) our TV remote and phones inside zip-top bags so we can still use them, but they won’t get chile gunk on them. Then we spend an entire morning or afternoon peeling and bagging the roasted chile.
We pack up our precious cargo in a cooler, and haul it home; enjoying the fragrant aroma of chile wafting in our car the whole way home. The perfectly portioned packs live in our freezer until we need them. Two cases of roasted chile last us just about a year.
What do we do with the chile? Everything. We put it in and on top of eggs, on sandwiches, on pizza, in bread, make a sauce out of it, make enchiladas, toss it in salad, put it in side dishes, stuff it with cheese and meat, make stews and soups, etc.
The flavor of roasted green chile and accompanied deep heat kicks a regular meal up a notch or two. If you like spicy food, you have to try fresh, real, roasted green chile. Yes, you can get it in cans at stores, but I promise you it’ll be a million times better if you can get your hands on the real thing.
Have you tried fresh roasted green chile? What did you think? How do you like to eat it? Stay tuned for some of my favorite recipes to use with green chile!