I visited Albuquerque last week and although I wasn't in town at the right time for farmers' markets or the annual chile harvest, I did get to experience some of the local cuisine. Just about every other meal I was served contained the famous New Mexico green chiles. These deliciously hot peppers made their way into everything from omelettes to biscuits to enchiladas.
New Mexico green chiles are similar to Anaheim peppers, but they are a bit more pungent. The term actually encompasses several different cultivars that have been bred since the 1800s, including Long Green, Big Jim, and Española. (Anaheims are a cultivar that was developed when New Mexico chile seeds were brought to California in 1896.) Many people consider the ones grown in the town of Hatch to be the tastiest.
Harvested in late summer, the peppers are usually roasted and then dried, canned, or frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year. When green chiles are left to mature on the vine, they turn into red chiles, which are harvested in the fall.
I was so inspired by all the green chile-containing dishes I ate in Albuquerque that I had to bring some of the peppers home with me. Embarrassingly, I completely forgot about airline regulations and had a jar of chiles confiscated from my carry-on luggage! Fortunately, I was allowed to keep my packet of dried green peppers. Now I've been looking at mail order sources such as Hatch Chile Express and the seed catalog of New Mexico State University.
Here are a few recipes I've got bookmarked:
• Green Chile Cornbread, from Simply Recipes
• Green Chili Pie and Stuffed Tomato, from Downtown Historic Bed and Breakfasts of Albuquerque (highly recommended!)
• Vegetarian New Mexico Green Chile, from Karina's Kitchen
Do you have any other recipes to recommend?
Sense of Place: Southwestern Flavors and Ingredients
Sense of Place: Food and Cuisine of the Southwest
(Images: Flickr member timlewisnm licensed under Creative Commons, Flickr member Vilseskogen licensed under Creative Commons)