With the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta now going in full swing, I’d like to share a recipe of the famous New Mexican food, green chile. Green Chile is a contentious point for many New Mexicans, because it simply different from other popular sauces in Mexican cuisine. In fact, this unique flavor has caused it to become popular in other areas, with Denver being a notable new bastion of green chile appreciation.
I will be posting a mostly vegetarian recipe, with the only non vegetarian item being chicken bouillon powder. This can easily be substituted for vegetable stock, or left out. The flavor will still be good, I assure you. Green chile is a very forgiving food item, so feel free to adjust to your flavor preferences.
Before we begin, let me talk about the spiciness. If you want it spicy, you can buy green chile ranging from mild to extra hot. Additionally, you can blend the flavors together to create something in between. You can also remove seeds or keep them in. Once the sauce cooks, all the spiciness will be blended, so a piece of chile will be approximately the same level of heat as a piece of onion or tomato. The seeds keep their spice even after cooking however, so keep that in mind when you plan your sauce.
If you are working with anything that isn’t mild, I highly recommend wearing food preparation gloves. Capsaicin, the spicy element in chilies, has a nasty tendency of seeping into your hands and burning for hours when you prepare chile sauces. Additionally, it will also spread to other parts of your body as your hands are constantly on the move. People touch their faces hundreds or even thousands of times a day, so it is highly possible to spread the heat to your face or other sensitive areas. If you choose to go without gloves, wash your hands WITH SOAP often. Capsaicin is an oil, so it needs a solvent or emulsifier to take it off your skin. If you wanted to, I’m sure you could use vodka or olive oil, but washing your hands is easy, cheap, and hygenic.
Green chile recipe
With all that said, let’s finally get to the green chile recipe.
1lb roasted green chile
1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium tomato, as ripe as possible
lemon peel (zesting is fine, but I personally take a Y peeler and shave off a bit)
low sodium soup stock ( I recommend using a flavor you like. I often use Knorr brand bouillon powder, because it’s easy to adjust amount. Both their chicken and vegetable stocks work fine for this recipe.
a small amount of oregano
A very small amount of nutmeg and cinnamon
Ground cumin and coriander seeds, using approximately twice as much cumin.
a dash of paprika
a couple bay leaves
salt and pepper
How to cook
First, turn on your oven broiler and get it hot. We need to peel that tomato.
Finely dice up your onion while you are waiting for your oven to heat up.
Put your tomato in the oven and leave it until the peel splits and it starts turning brown and black on top. Check it after 10 to 15 minutes. Relax it won’t burn, it is full of water.
Chop up your garlic, big or small chunks are both fine, but the smaller the chunks are, the more danger of burning there is.
Once your stuff is chopped up, it’s time to sautee the onion and garlic. Put the onion in a big hot pan with canola oil, a little salt and pepper. You want to cook it until the onions are translucent, and beginning to turn golden, but not quite brown.
At this point, put in your garlic. You want to get a little roast on it too, to lessen the sharpness. With garlic, you have much less leeway in terms of burning than onion, so be sure to stir often. After a minute or two, add water or beer. This will instantly lower the temperature and prevent things from burning. Turn the heat to low as well. Check the water level and stir occasionally, so things dont stick to the bottom and burn.
Some time around here you should have taken out your tomato. Relax if the peel is dark, it all comes off. Set it aside for now to let it cool.
Now it’s time to put on your gloves, we are moving on to roasted green chile.
Time for green chile
Step 1: cut off the stem about half an inch from the top and discard. Step 2 : Scrape both sides of the chile to remove the peel Step 3: cut the chile in half lengthwise and spread it out. Step 4: carefully scrape the chile with the back of your knife, removing the seeds Step 5: save on the side, or give to your designated chopper Step 6: Stack the chile up about 4 high and 2 or 3 wide, and chop once more lengthwise, then chop approximately 1 centimeter apart. This will give you a great size chile for sauces, or just to put on a burger.
Once your chile is ready throw it into the pot with onions and move on to the tomato.
Peel the tomato, then chop off the stem and save for later. Dice the tomato in a similar way to how you chop an onion. It will be soft, don’t worry about smashing it a bit. If the juice overflows, pour it into the pot. Once you have an ambiguous diced/pureed tomato, move on to the stem, cutting 3 cuts down to get the last bit of tomato out of it. Remove the small stem part and add everything to your pot.
From this point, you want to stir occasionally and just give it time to simmer. Add your bay leaves and lemon peel now. After about 20 minutes, all the flavors will be melded together. At this point is when I recommend adding your seasonings. Remember, you can always add more, but taking out is impossible. Cumin will blend very nicely with the earthiness of green chile, while the coriander will provide great floral notes in the background. The nutmeg will give you a mix of floral and earthy tones, and the cinnamon will add a little brightening sharpness, which will synergize with the lemon peel and coriander. Stir and taste during every step, and add spices and salt a little at a time. Be careful not to burn your tongue
Turn off the heat after you season it, and let sit for 10 minutes. Finally take out the bay leaves and lemon peel. The flavor will be set at this point, and work great on a lot of different foods.
If you are looking to buy green chile, a chile ristra, or other chile products, be sure to check out my family business, Farmers Chile Market. Do you have a favorite green chile recipe you enjoy? Let me know what you do differently!