Last weekend my husband and I drove to the next town over for lunch and a little shopping. Besides an outdoor mall with a Barnes and Noble and a Chili’s (two of our favorite places), there’s a Fresh Market. People say Fresh Market is similar to a Whole Foods, but I personally wouldn’t put them on the same level. I guess they’re kinda similar, but I’m partial to Whole Foods. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that Fresh Market did kick it up several notches on my list, because while we were walking around we stumbled upon these beauties:
Seriously, how hot is that? And I do mean that question literally and figuratively!
If you haven’t heard me rave about New Mexican Hatch green chile then you have some catching up to do! Green chile is—by far—my favorite food. Kenny and I eat it on everything and we enjoy it during at least one meal a day. Before I moved out to Georgia I packed a huge cooler full of green chile to tide us over until we would be back in New Mexico to buy more. Right now I think we have enough in our freezer to last us around another six months. So you can see why finding Hatch green chile in Georgia is so exciting for us!
|“Devotees know it’s only a brief late-summer affair but if you roast and freeze them, they can be used later without sacrificing flavor or texture. Hatch chiles are meaty with a thick skin. But, the skin can be bitter if left on, so be sure to roast these peppers for the very best flavor!”|
Well, let’s get roasting, shall we? (I should mention here—although I’m clearly biased towards Hatch chiles—you can roast any chile pepper like this.)
First thing’s first: heat the grill on its highest level and lay the chile on the rack. Close the lid and start sniffing the air, you’ll start to smell something amazing very soon.
Second: open the lid and start turning the chile. The goal is to get them charred and as black as you can get them. Seriously, this is very good for them.
Third: (I don’t really have a photo of this part; I was too busy jumping with glee over the amazing fragrance and thought of biting into a chile!) Once they’re as black as they’re going to get, plop them into a garbage bag. You want them to “sweat,” which will make them easier to peel. In fact, I put them into a garbage bag, tie the bag in a knot, put the bag into a box, and leave them there for several hours to a day. Trust me…this is how you do it!
I really apologize for this picture. I couldn’t get my hand to steady for the life of me. This is seriously the best out of about 10 pictures…grrrrr. Anyway, this is chile in a garbage bag, in a box. And it smells fantastic!
Okay, this next step is EXTREMELY important. If there is one thing you remember it’s this: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN TOUCHING CHILE. Seriously, don’t even think about touching a chile without having gloves on.
What you need to peel chile: Gloves and two bowls, one filled with warm water.
Okay, so with your handy dandy gloves on, take out a chile. See how black that is? It’s perfectly roasted and the skin is going to slide right off.
Use your hands to peel the skin (burnt part). I like to have a bowl of water, because it helps keep everything contained and I can dip my gloves in there from time to time to get excess skin off.
Once you’ve skinned the chile it’s going to look like the second photo. There’s also going to be a stem attached. Tear the top of the stem off and remove the excess seeds. Having water in the bowl is handy here, because you can dip the chile in the water and squeeze out the seeds.
The heat is in the membrane and seeds of the chile, so if you like heat keep some seeds with your batch. Roasted green chile has so much more to it than heat, which is why it’s so delicious and versatile. The flavor is smoky and smooth with a warm, slow heat.
By the end of peeling all the chile, you should have a bowl full of skin and seeds and another bowl just of chile. From here you can chop the chile and keep it in the fridge or chop it and freeze it for later. And that’s it! You now have green chile waiting and calling out your name to enjoy.
I bet you’re wondering what you can do with your chile now that you have it. Besides doing something delicious like green chile chicken enchiladas, you can put it on everything from eggs to pizza, or mix it with cream cheese or put it in pasta. Since chile is chalk full of great nutrients—whenever I feel a cold coming on I get some green chile and put string cheese over it and then pop it into the microwave so the cheese can melt. Basically, I eat away my cold.
Long story short, I hate sharing the secret to great chile with people because I have an irrational fear that the rest of the world will reailze how great it is and then there won’t be any left for me. But at the same time, this is something I need people to experience and love so they’ll understand why I’m so enthusiastic about it!
I am in no means an expert on chile; I just love it. If you have any questions about what to do with it, though, feel free to ask.
Oh! And one more thing: if you ever eat something that’s too hot to handle, step away from the water. Dairy (milk, sour cream, cheese, etc.) is your best option when it comes to fighting the heat. Trust me and reach for dairy to cool you down.