Green Chile - Yum!!
The World of Green Chile
Having grown up in New Mexico, my husband was stunned to discover you couldn't order green chile on your pizza in Texas. While in NM, almost every restaurant offers something with green chile on it, it's almost unheard of anywhere outside the state. I've only recently developed a taste for it, being a fan of red chile myself, but it's totally yum to me now.
I've started this lens as a way to help you explore all the yumminess to be had from green chile - where to buy it and what to do with it once you have it. Enjoy and muy caliente!!
About Green Chile
Most of the green chile you're going to find comes from Hatch, New Mexico (although I have it on good authority that they're starting to grow it in Espanola again). I've been there - my dad decided once when I was a kid that it would be a great idea to go by and pick our own. We then drove all the way to Mississippi with bags of chile on the roof of the station wagon, watering them down at every gas station to try to keep them from turning red before we got to my uncle's where we could roast them. Now, where was I?
The chile coming out of Hatch comes in a variety of heat levels and most places will let you mix and match as you please. Your choices will likely be Mild, Medium (also known as Big Jim), Hot (mostly likely Sandia), or Really Hot (Lumbre among others). Try them all to figure out which one you really like. I know people who think Lumbre isn't hot enough and people who can barely take Mild.
What to Call It
OK, let's start with as basic as you can get - the name. To me, chili is the stew stuff with beans and meat and red chili - like Chili's the restaurant. When you're talking about chile peppers, it's with an "e." At least in New Mexico, that's the way it is, seeing as how that's the spelling from the Spanish. In fact, Senator Pete Dominici from NM has even held out on the Senate floor about this very issue.
So, for this lens, remember it's chile with an "e," folks!!
Chile - does spelling matter?
Where to Buy
Here are a few links to places where you can order green chile and get more info and recipes. Since I live in Dallas now, this is the only option for me unless my mom comes through and brings me some. You just can't find it outside of New Mexico very easily. Check out the eBay links farther down the page as well.
- Hatch Chile Express
Order it fresh, frozen or powdered and they send you directions for roasting it yourself. They also sell seeds and cookbooks.
- New Mexican Connections
You can buy your frozen chile already roasted, but unpeeled. Buy it jarred, fresh, frozen and dried.
- Denver Green Chile
Great site to help Coloradans get their green chile fix.
- Southwestern Chile Products
How can I not love them? They share my pet peeve about the "e" thing. :-) Sauces, recipes and corporate gifts galore.
- New Mexico Chili
Course, they get a raspberry because the company name does it with an "i." But you can get your chile dried, fresh or frozen.
- Hatch Green Chile Store
Straight from Berridge Farms in the Hatch valley.
Green Chile Stew - Recipes for the classic green chile dish
Green chile stew was a weekly staple in my house growing up and one of the pots that always sat on the back of my grandmother's stove. The versions of this classic dish are quite astounding in their variety. Even my own family takes different paths now.
My mom makes her with potatoes, but my brother has dropped those out of his and uses chicken stock for the liquid. My brother-in-law uses pork roast instead of hamburger meat, and I've started combining the best of these versions in my own, which has onions instead of potatoes. Here are a few other recipes to get you started on this staple dish.
- Santa Fe School of Cooking
Their version includes potatoes and tosses in some red bell pepper to boot.
- Emeril's Version
Bam! This is a truly complicated looking version, but pretty yummy if you're willing to do the work.
- Darla's Version
A New Mexico transplant comes to love green chile and offers a version that includes tomatoes.
- Austin Chronicle
This is exactly the way I make it, minus the tomatoes.
Cooking with Green Chile
Hatch Chile Festival - Weekend party to celebrate green chile
Held Labor Day weekend every year in Hatch, N.M., which is where the best green chile comes from. Go and join in the fun as thousands of people descend on the town!!!
Other Green Chile Recipes - For those who just don't like stew
Green chile stew isn't to everyone's taste. And let's face it, it's hard to face a bowl of stew when it's still in the 90s outside. So what other options are there for those delicious green peppers? Check out the below links for other ideas.
- Group Recipes
The crew at Group Recipes have come up with a world of options - from the standards like rellenos to the exotic like southwest shrimp with chile-lime salsa.
Check out the comments section here for a mind-boggling number of links for recipes using green chile. Green chile shrimp mousse and green chile apple pie stand alongside breakfast burritos and fish sauces.
- Recipes - El Pinto Restaurant and New Mexican Salsa Company
Mostly standards here, but this is one of my favorite restaurants to hit when we head back to Albuquerque to visit family.
- Chile Bibles Cookbook
Green chile friend chicken, posole and cucumber-chile granite, among others.
Eating Green Chile
Roasting and Freezing
Or - what to do once you get your fresh chile
Roasting is a fairly simple process and you can do it at home. But it's a lot of fun to go someplace where they're roasting them in the big barrels. The smell is divine!!
Basically, you're cooking the chiles until the skins blister - they'll go from bright green to more of an olive shade and blacken a little. Try about 7-9 minutes in a 450-degree oven or toss them on the grill outside.
I've heard different stories about whether you should leave the peels on before you freeze your chiles. Some people feel it impacts the taste and texture to remove the peels first. But my personal experience is that a quart-size bag of frozen chile doesn't get used because you have to thaw the entire block and that's a lot of chile! So I developed a method that allows for easy use of my chile once frozen.
What I've taken to doing is peeling and chopping right away, then freezing it in ice cube trays. My "chile cubes" then get placed into a freezer bag and are ready for use in any quantity I need. One cube to toss in a couple of scrambled eggs or five for a stew. There are some who might not feel this is an optimal way to freeze your chilie, but it provides convenience and allows me to stretch those precious few bags of chile my mom brings to Dallas for me out for as long as possible.