How to roast chiles
A reader of The Lost Recipe for Happiness wrote to me and said, “Those of us without knowledge of the southwest US and its foods might have liked a little more instruction on how to roast chiles.” A good point.
It’s a cloudy day here in Colorado, a very good kind of day for a green chile stew to burn off the viruses hanging around the house and our bodies. (Click here for Michelle’s Green Chile Stew recipe, the best, simplest recipe I know for this hearty, wholesome dish.)
To roast chiles is very simple. Look for mild green chile peppers, about three or four inches long. They might be called Anaheim or Pueblo or Hatch or mild green chile peppers. Most grocery stores seem to carry them year-round these days. I buy them in bushels from the farmers market or the roadside stands that bloom in August and September around here. Often, they will do the roasting for you in giant revolving roasters, and you can then bring them home and divide them into smaller batches for freezing. This would be for the serious chile consumer, however, not the casual user.
For the more casual user, buy mild green chiles, choosing peppers that are firm to the touch, much as you would choose sweet peppers. The smell will often hint at the heat–try to smell a few to see if you can tell what a hotter pepper might smell like, just for fun. For an average stew, bring home 10 or 12 chiles (plus a few jalapenos or serranos (careful–super hot!) to roast as well. You might also want some thin latex gloves, thin enough you can still work with the chiles.
At home, wash the peppers and put them on a cookie sheet under the broiler for a few minutes to blacken the tough outer skin of the pepper. Keep an eye on them. It doesn’t take long! (One of the most fun parts is watching the chiles “breathe” in the oven.) When one side is seared, turn them over and sear the other side. Remove from the oven.
When they are cool enough to handle, strip off the blackened skin and strip out the seeds from the middle of the pepper. This is best done by using the stem as a little handle for each pepper, and you’ll quickly get a feeling for the rhythm. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE OR EYES WHILE DOING THIS! For a small batch of chiles, you will probably not need the gloves, but if you do a big batch, you absolutely need the protection, because your skin can blister. Handle the jalapenos and serranos with particular care. They can be roasted just like bigger chiles, but they are smaller, and you need just a little.
When you’ve stripped off the skins and seeds, chop off the stems and the chiles are ready to be chopped and used in whatever recipe you like.
Anyone else up for green chile this afternoon? I think I might even make tortillas from scratch. mmmmm…
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