When it’s New Mexico green chile season, (August-October) you can get fresh green chile pods and/or you can buy them already roasted. In New Mexico and parts of Texas you’ll see big propane roasters in parking lots roasting the green chile as fund raisers or drawing customers to grocery stores. But also for New Mexico green chile fans, part of the experience is to roast your own and enjoy the aroma.
Roasting the green chile
There are a number of ways to do this, and it’s difficult to go wrong. The goal is to remove the tough outer skin from the pod. Applying heat separates the skin from the flesh of the chile. Using various dry heat sources to blister the pods causes caramelization which brings even more flavor to the party.
Outdoor grill method: Place chiles on a charcoal or gas grill above high heat. Remove once skin has blistered.
Oven or broiler method: Put the green chiles in a hot oven or broiler until skin blisters away from the flesh of the chile.
Range-top method: If you have a gas burner you can just fire one up and blister chiles with the flame. If you have electric burners you can cover them with heavy wire mesh, then heat the pods until they blister.
Cast iron method: Heat the skillet or comal. Place several chiles on it, and turn them as they blacken.
Steaming method: You won’t get the caramelization, but the skin will separate from the flesh. Put the chiles in a vegetable steamer for 20-30 minutes.
Peeling the green chile
When you’ve got the chiles blistered black all over, put them in a plastic or paper bag for about 15 minutes. Take out and remove the skin. Rubbing them under cool water takes the skin right off. You can also get them into the freezer right away. When you remove and thaw them they are even easier to peel.
Freezing the green chile
Freeze as soon as possible if you’re not going to use them right away. Some folks will completely prep the pods, cutting the stems off and removing the seeds. Put them in plastic bags that can lie flat for faster freezing.
You can also put chopped green chile into an ice tray. Once it is frozen, pop the chile cubes into a freezer bag. That is an easy way to get the wonderful flavor of New Mexico green chile into stews, soups, beans and of course cauldillo.