Friday, June 15, 2012

Roasting Green Chiles

Green chiles are a passion, almost an obsession with New Mexicans
And almost anyone who has ever tried them

New Mexico has been home to the green chiles for eons and eons. In fact, green chiles have been so popular for so long, every man, woman and child on average eats over a bushel per person per year, resulting in almost no excess for export.

Green chiles are the unripe form of red chiles. All chiles tattle tale their spiciness or heat by their configuration or appearance. The three indexes to heat are-

                Narrow shoulders
                Pointed tip
                Darker color for its type

The reverse is true for milder chiles —
                Broad shoulders
                Blunt tip
                Lighter color

These guidelines are important to know, because any one chile plant can have up to 15 different piquancies or levels of spice at any one time. If you definitely like chiles hotter or milder, knowing how to select the chiles of your choice becomes much easier.

Green chiles are highly perishable, so should be refrigerated, once picked.  They have the freshest flavor and texture if roasted within a few days. 

The best method for roasting chiles is to—

1. Wash them, removing all soil,
2. Prick the chiles with a sharp knife, making a slit about a half inch long lengthwise just below the stem.
3. Place the chiles on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil if roasting in the kitchen under the broiler.  If roasting over a hot, direct fire on an outdoor grill, the chiles can be placed directly on the grate.  Either way you select to roast—leave under or on the heat source until the first side of each chile becomes darkly blistered.  Then rotate each and repeat, at least 3 times. DO NOT CONTINUE TO TURN THEM AS THEY WILL NOT PROPERLY ROAST OR PARCH—THEY WILL BE STEAMED.
4. When uniformly blistered, place the chiles in ice water to stop the cooking and maintain a crisp texture.  Just for the record, the chiles will also retain a much brighter color and more nutrition than if you just let them cool at room temperature.  When the chiles are cool to the touch, remove them from the ice water and drain.   
5. If freezing, place the drained whole chiles (unpeeled) on cookie sheets and freeze.  When solid, place in heavy weight freezer bags that you have labeled and dated.  Now, you can use just one or many chiles by placing them under warm water for a few minutes and the skin pulls right off.

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