New Mexico Chile for
All the information you need to know about New Mexico Red and Green!
A Scary Thought...
This article in a recent Las Cruces publication really was
an eye-catcher. Like most everyone in the Southwest,
we are in the midst of a severe drought, with no relief
in sight. Farmers here in our part of the Rio Grande
valley are being restricted on how much irrigation water
they are allotted, with much of the available water
being directed on downstream to Texas.
The amount of irrigation water available for any of us is
directly tied to the snow-pack melt supplying the Rio Grande,
and several years of insufficient snow has greatly
reduced that supply.
Political battle-lines are now forming between Texas
and New Mexico, over who will get the water.
We who want our chile are of course heavily biased
in favor of our own agriculture. Nobody really knows
what the final result will be, but unless a dramatic shift
in the climate improves our drought conditions (which
is highly unlikely), we may all be trying to grow
chile peppers in our home gardens.
Another Spring has
sprung...of course here in the Southwest that means we'll be in for some
While waiting, though, we
still have a good stock of frozen Green in the freezer, and what better
|The world has discovered what we've known all along here in New Mexico ...chile is habit-forming!|
|Whether enjoying dishes made with pungent green chile or mellow dried red peppers, we're hooked! And while the same ingredient in chile that supposedly makes it slightly habit-forming (capsaicin) is also the one that may burn your tongue, it's the delicious variety of flavors in chile cuisine that we love, not just the heat.|
|For our purposes here, we're not going to explore Jalapenos, Habaneros, Cayenne, or the multitude of other peppers preferred mainly for their heat. When we say "Chile", we'll be talking about the long New Mexico Green/Red types, with names like "Big Jim", "Rio Grande","Sandia", etc. In other parts of the country you'll see similar (but not quite the same!) chile peppers called "Anaheim" peppers. In our neck of the woods, it's "Hatch" or "Mesilla Valley" chile that we crave.|
The heat of a chile pepper comes
from a chemical called capsaicin, found in the membranes surrounding the seeds
of the pepper and extending down the pod like "veins". The heat can be
somewhat by removing these membranes, along with the seeds.
|By Summer's end the green chiles are ripening and
changing to a rich ,deep red color. The chile flavor is changing also, becoming
sweet and mellow, with a completely different taste from the green pods.
All over Southern New Mexico at this time of year you'll see colorful hanging ristras, or strings of red chiles. These are not just pretty to look at. After the chiles are dried, they are the starting point for the lovely red chile sauce which is the basis of a multitude of red chile dishes.
Go here for detailed Instructions on how to use Dried Red Chile (or watch the video below).
IF YOU HAVE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET
, VIEW THESE SHORT VIDEO CLIPS
ON ROASTING GREEN CHILE AND WORKING WITH DRIED RED CHILE
Southern New Mexico's "Chile Trail"
(Why not ? They've got their "Turquoise Trail" up north!)
Chile peppers are grown all over New Mexico, but the major commercial production is in the Southern part of the state, concentrated roughly along what we've dubbed "The Chile Trail" shown at right. Traveling from west to east, you pass through Hidalgo, Luna, and Dona Ana counties, the state's three largest chile producers. Make a jaunt up to Hatch, the "Chile Capital of the World". Heading east, enjoy the desert and mountain scenery from Las Cruces to Artesia, but there's not much chile growing on that leg of the trip. Then from Artesia eastward you'll pass through Eddy and Lea counties, two more fairly large producers. After that, you're in Texas, where it's strictly "Chili"...with an "i", a whole different story!
|Okay, what's the
difference between "Chile" (with an "e"), and "Chili" (with
Order "chile" in New Mexico and the immediate response is usually "Red or Green?" Chile as we know it here is a variety of dishes where the major ingredient is either fresh green chile, or a sauce made from rehydrated dry red chile pods.
|Chili, on the other hand, is more of a soup, made with meat and various other ingredients, seasoned with a mixture of powdered chile and other spices. Don't get us wrong...we occasionally enjoy a "good steamin' bowl of Chili", but we've come to demand much more than ground beef, beans, and cheese of our Chile!|
Looking for recipes using New
Mexico Red and Green Chile? Check out our cookbook,
See us on FACEBOOK for additional recipes and Chile trivia!
Also check out Gary's New Mexico Chile BLOG for even more! (click the photo)
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