My godparents live in Albuquerque, New Mexico and, when I was little, they used to send us 40-lb burlap sacks filled with green chiles around this time of year. When I think of it, I can smell the aroma of fresh chiles (pre-roasting) and burlap–a magical combination of smells. When the chiles arrived, the whole house would turn into a flurry of excitement. Photographs would be taken, the oven would be fired up, the roasting pans pulled out, and the whole house would smell like chiles. My mom would spend the day (or two) in the kitchen, roasting chiles under the broiler–turning them and poking them, switching out pans, cooling them, peeling them, deseeding them, and bagging them up for the freezer. This annual ritual would keep us in green chiles all year long. There was always the exciting moment when the first batch was finished roasting when my mom would determine just how hot they were. Sometimes they were ‘hot as hell’ (as my mom would say), and other times they were more mild, which meant we could eat them in much bigger quantities. When Eric and I took a 5 week road trip around the U.S. in 2006, we stopped off to visit my godparents in Albuquerque and it just happened to be late summer/early fall–chile harvest time! We bought two 40lb sacks of chiles and tossed them in the back of the pick-up truck and headed east, delivering them to Pittsburgh for a chile-roasting extravaganza, only to discover that these were ‘hotter than hell’ and could only be eaten in teaspoon-size quantities.
It’s been several years since we had any green chiles and my godfather was kind enough to ship me a box of them this week (all hail the Godfather!). They arrived yesterday, which meant ‘drop everything and roast!’
You can roast any kind of peppers–poblanos, anaheim, bell peppers, jalapenos, etc. Anaheim’s are probably the most commonly available in grocery stores/farmers’ markets around the country and are pretty freakin similar to the New Mexico chiles we get.
You will need:
Chiles (any quantity)
Turn on the broiler on the oven, or at least fire it up as high as it will go. Use a baking sheet/roasting pan. IMPORTANT: You DO NOT want to use any pan that you use for sweet baking. We have two large baking sheets–one dedicated solely for sweet baking projects; the other for savory roasting projects. Lay out the peppers on the pan; they can be touching and crowded on the pan, but should only be in a single layer:
Put it in the oven, under the broiler. Now, this part is kind of intuitive, and you have to check them regularly (about every 5 or 10 minutes, you want to peek at them), You’re looking for them to look like this:
Turn them over and return them to the oven. Keep checking them regularly and turning them until all sides get roasted and the skins are papery and pulling away from the flesh of the peppers, like this:
When they are finished roasting, remove them from the oven, and you can either (1) put them in a reused paper bag, if you need to do a second batch on the pan, or (2) cover the pan of chiles with a clean dish towel, tucking the corners of the towel under the pan. The idea here is that you steam them slightly with their own heat to help the peeling process. I used a paper bag since I was doing multiple batches with the same pan:
When the chiles are cool, you can peel them. Peel off all of the papery skin and squish out the seeds and the stems of the chiles. Make a plate of the chiles:
Now, you can either package these up (in your preferred method) and freeze them. Or you can chop them up for immediate consumption (they’ll keep in the fridge for about a week like this):
Wash your hands well after handling them; the spice could be painful! Also, if the air in the kitchen gets spicy while you’re roasting, just open a window and/or turn on the oven vent.
These are fantastic pretty much any way you eat them. In burritoes, no-cheese quesadillas, on toast with avocado (yum!), in stew, on black bean burgers, etc. Can you think of other ways to enjoy these wonderful chiles?