Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roasting Green Chile Peppers

HERE is an article I wrote on kitchen appliances for the current issue of Costco Connection magazine. Thank you so much to gracious food bloggers Kalyn and Joe for letting me interview them on their favorite gadgets. I'm working on a list of all of my freelance food articles that are available for reading online - I'm waiting for Vegetarian Journal to put this year's articles online as I did a raw southwestern cuisine article with some recipes I really liked.


We've received green chiles the last three weeks from our CSA. Although some other types of peppers can be used without removing the peel, our beautiful New Mexico green chiles usually need to be roasted as the skins are pretty tough.

The best way to do this is in a commercial chile roaster where the chiles are constantly moving and the flames are intense. Most people don't have access to these chile roasters but believe it or not you can buy your own roaster. The second best way is to do this is with a gas range - just place the chiles right on the grates. I just have a electric coil range so I put the chiles directly on the coils. You can also use a broiler, an indoor or outdoor grill, or even a cast iron pan. (I also use the method shown here to roast poblanos and jalapenos.)

To roast chiles, buy the meatiest, thickest chiles you can find. Start by piercing a hole in all your chiles with a sharp knife to let the steam escape. Next turn on the range hood and get as much ventilation in your kitchen as possible. Put a few of your green chiles directly on the source of your heat. In my case I roast them on medium-high heat directly on the electric coils of my stove as seen above.
If the heat is too low you'll end with just parts of the chile roasted and it will be nearly impossible to peel the chile. Don't worry too much about burning them - a little charring is good and the only time I've experienced a chile that was truly burnt is when a chile pepper gets wedged into the commercial chile roaster and the very tip burns. The key to roasting chiles is to keep moving the chiles around to get them roasted all over. Unfortunately most chiles aren't perfectly flat but once you've roasted them on one side they become more pliable so you can use your tongs to flatten them out to char as much as possible of the chile. Do this gently so as not to tear the chiles, especially if you want to keep them whole for stuffing. Enjoy this part of the process as the aroma of roasting green chiles is one of the best things in the world!

Once the chile has been roasted evenly all over (or as much as possible), put it in a covered container for an hour or so. The heat from the chiles will help loosen the skin even further. The photo above shows the chiles after they've steamed further in the covered container. You can see that skin is wrinkled even in parts of the chile that are not charred - that means the chile will be easy to peel. Once they've all cooled, you can put them in ziplock bags for the freezer skins and all. Just thaw when you're ready to use them.

When ready to use your chiles gently remove the blackened peel from each chile. You'll be tempted to do this under running water for speed but you'll get the best flavor if you don't rinse them. I just use my fingers to peel them but some cooks do this with a paring knife.

Food of the gods.


Erin said...

I thought I was doomed when I moved and lost my gas range to an electric one, but I never considered roasting peppers right on an electric burner. Genius! I will definitely try this sometime, thanks for the tip.

KAnn said...

Great information, Nanette. I have just been purchasing mine already roasted at Whole Foods.

Kalyn said...

Thanks again for interviewing me, it was great fun. I'm experimenting with roasting chiles on a gas grill, I agree that they're delicious!

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