To view or purchase Momo's best photographs, please visit:
Introduction to chile
One of the great joys of living in New Mexico is the chili peppers that we have readily available. Here are some facts about this amazing vegetable (or fruit?):
- Originally from the New World (the Americas), it has been adopted by many other cultures since 1500s. Today, varieties of this plant are very important in many cuisines, such as Hungarian (paprika), Indian, South and Central American, and the U.S. Southwest.
- Chili peppers are often just called "chile" in New Mexico, but can be spelled as chili or chilli as well.
- There are two main varieties in New Mexico, green and red. They both come from the same plant. Green chile is harvested in August, but if it is allowed to grow further into the Fall, it turns red. They have very distinct and wonderful flavors.
- In general, green chile is roasted and stored frozen, canned, or pickled. Each August, we buy 90-120 lbs of roasted green chile (3-4 buschels) and store it in the freezer, which lasts us a whole year.
- In general, red chile is sun-dried and can be purchased year round. Even though red chile can be bought ground (as powder), once you try it the way it is described below, you will probably not eat any more ground red chile.
Buy dried red chile. We have been buying the Baca family brand for a long time, and love it. I am sure there are other good ones out there.
Here is the red chile we buy. Our standard batch is four of these bags (10 oz each).
Here are the chile pods. Very beautiful.
To clean the chile, break off the stems and dip them in warm/hot water for 5-10 min.
Transfer the chile into a large pot (this one is 16 qt) and add water (1/2 of the pot).
Once all the chile is in the pot, cook for 1 hour on medium high (covered).
This will cook and steam the chile, making it soft.
Let the chile cool down, then transfer it to a blender in batches and blend it for 1-2 minutes with some water (either the water it was cooked in or new water). Just add enough water to allow blending, but do not make it too watery. You are making a sauce. (Mmm, just thinking of enchiladas or entomatadas makes my mouth water.)
Pour the blended chile into a fine strainer and strain it. What comes out is a very smooth sauce with no skin flakes or seeds. Super smooth.
This is what it looks like zoomed in. Sooooo tasty.
This sauce should be frozen or used fresh on a variety of dishes. Some simple ones are enchiladas, breakfast burritos, and entomatadas.