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Roasting New Mexico Green Chile-Abuelita Style

Updated on August 19, 2012
Green Chiles! Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Green Chiles! Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Poking holes. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Poking holes. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Comal or griddle method. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Comal or griddle method. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Broiler method Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Broiler method Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Broiler roasted on the left, Comal roasted on the right. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Broiler roasted on the left, Comal roasted on the right. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Peeling. Photo©2012 Teri Helton
Peeling. Photo©2012 Teri Helton

Easy Steps to Chile Roasting

Everybody has their favorite way of roasting green chiles. In New Mexico, and in many grocery stores in the Southwestern U.S, we bought our green chile in 100 pound gunny sacks, but only if we didn't get the chance to pick it ourselves right in the family's fields (several in our family were farmers of green chile). At the market, you could buy your chile and then pay to have a guy roast it in a big barrel made of wire mesh that tumbled the chile inside it over an open fire, usually from a propane burner, until the skins were toasty. Then they bagged it back up and you carried it home.

In our family, chile harvesting was a big thing. When I was a child we usually traveled back to New Mexico from California to harvest our chile and roast it at a big family gathering. If there were a lot of people there for roasting, they made a big fire pit with racks over it for placing the chiles on to roast. Each woman would roast her own chile with help from the others until all the chile was roasted and bagged up.

When we moved back to New Mexico where I spent the next 20+ years, we harvested our own chile and I roasted it either outside over an open fire, or indoors on a comal (cast iron griddle) or under the broiler. What I liked best about roasting the chile indoors was the wonderful smell of roasting green chili that wafted through the house. It sure did draw a crowd into the kitchen!

So here I am, sharing something I love with all you green chile lovers.
Here's what you'll need:
Fresh Green Chile (Unless you simply like doing it, its best to roast several pounds at a time.) Leave the stems on the chiles. You can remove them later if you like.
Comal (cast iron is best) or broiler. You can also use your barbeque grill or a wire rack over a fire pit, the process is the same.
Pinchers to turn the chiles
A clean dish towel
A paring knife, steak knife or ice pick (to poke the holes with.)

Here are the simple steps to roasting your own green chiles:

Wash the chiles.
-Poke a hole in each chile.
-Decide if you want to roast on a comal or under the broiler.
-Place the chiles on a hot comal (griddle) or on an oven rack under the broiler (place the rack at the topmost position closest to the heat). Keep an eye on the chile, they can cook fast.
-Turn them as the skin begins to roast to insure even browning and toasting. The chiles will become soft and it will be easier to straighten them out for even roasting on all sides. You'll see what I mean as you begin turning them.
-When the chiles are brown all around, remove them from the heat. Place them on a flat surface and cover them with a towel to let them sweat. This helps the skin to loosen from the chile and makes it easier to peel off.
-After about half an hour, uncover the chiles and remove the skin by pinching it off carefully. Try not to tear the chile as they are now quite soft. The skin should peel right off easily. Doing this under running water makes it easier. Once the chiles are peeled, you can use them in your recipes or freeze them in batches for later use.

That's it. Its easy and I think, a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy the process as much as the eating!! Have fun and maybe even start a new family tradition.


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