It is finally green chile season and I can’t tell you how excited I am. We have been out of chile for over 2 months now and the stuff you get at the grocery store just isn’t the same.
My favorite place to get chile is the Farmer’s Market on Snow Heights and Eubank in Albuquerque. I’m picky because if the chile isn’t roasted properly it is very difficult to peel. This store has a veteran chile roaster named Albert who roasts the chile perfect every time.
You can see how busy it is. All of these people are waiting for their chile to be roasted. We ended up waiting about an hour. The smell that permeates the city during this time of year is just amazing. I wish I could post that!
During our hour wait I chatted with a few of my fellow chile lovers (image below). I met Virginia who has lived in New Mexico for 50 years (far right) and usually gets just one bag per season. Bernice (middle) is a native New Mexican and usually gets 1 or 2 bags per season and Rita (far left) who is also a native New Mexican who usually gets 2-4 bags per season. When I asked these young ladies what they put green chile on they all agreed that they pretty much put it on everything. Rita also had her brother and sister-in-law with her (Jane and Michael) who used to live in New Mexico but had moved to Houston. She also had her son Robert with her who lives in Phoenix. All were here specifically to load up on chile which they can’t get at home.
I gained some valuable information while I waited. Rita brings a cooler with her and slaps a bag of ice on top of her freshly roasted chile. She says that in less than an hour the chile is cool enough to handle and the skin falls right off. I decided to carry out the experiment and see if it worked. Normally I would take the bag home and allow it to steam in the plastic bag they put it in and then peel it.
As I began to peel the chile closest to the ice, I was a little disappointed. Since it cooled so fast it didn’t really steam and the texture wasn’t as tender as I like. But, as I got down to lower layers it was ok. I really didn’t feel like it peeled better and in fact it seemed more difficult. We purchased 2 bags and I peeled one but then we had to head out to a dinner party so I left the other bag in the cooler + ice overnight and didn’t get to it until the following day. Surprisingly the skin on this second bag practically fell off and was the perfect texture. I’m convinced Rita’s method is legit but I think it just needed more than an hour to sit.
Notice that I am wearing gloves. You really don’t want to peel a 35lb bushel of chile with your bare hands. Trust me!
I found it really interesting that like my own family memories of processing chile in my early years, Rita, Bernice and Virginia had similar memories of roasting chiles in a broiler or on a grill. This was a major family event because it was so time intensive. Imagine only being able to roast a few at a time! These rotating roasting machines are genius!
Can’t get to New Mexico for fresh green chile? Notice the sign in the image above – you can get it shipped! And if you only get a small amount, you can roast it yourself on your grill or in your broiler. Basically, you turn it often and wait until the flesh is charred. Then you put it into a plastic bag and let it steam similar to how you process bell peppers.