Over the years, I’ve explored six different ways how to roast green chiles. This chile addict shares the secrets and why smoke from a distant fire is my fave for roast chilies.
Hello Hatchers! Here in the Southwest, it’s that time of year when the smoke of roast chilies in the air brings back memories of favorite Hatch chiles recipes. For those of us smitten with the spicy pods, it’s a burning love affair. I’ve already seen the enormous barrel-shaped roasting cages on the backs of trailers at Flagstaff strip malls. Right now, they’re guarding the best corner parking spots readying for the oncoming harvest. I even saw Hatch green chiles in my grocer’s produce department on Sunday! My heart raced a bit, even though that seems a little early. So, of course, I bought a pound or two.
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The super seasonal peppers are available fresh from the fields for only six weeks of the year, starting in August. So when we see the torpedo-shaped green chile in the market or on the back of pick-up trucks coming in from Hatch, New Mexico, it’s bittersweet. It signals the end of summer, but we celebrate the arrival of the New Mexico delicacy.
How to roast green chiles
I’ve tried most ways of how to roast green chiles. I’ve roasted the pungent pods over gas burners on my range, under the broiler in my oven and inside my oven set to “bake.” However, I tried something new this year, and it is definitely my favorite way how to roast green chiles. But first, let’s look at all the ways to roast chilies:
1.) Roast chilies in barrel-shaped cages at markets or grocery stores
The easiest way to roast chilies is to have someone else do it for you. You can buy roasted chilies directly out of one of those barrel-shaped roasters in the grocer’s parking lot. The roasters look like a colossal bingo cage but have gas-fed flaming jets, which heat the tumbling peppers. Then you have the bonus of the smell of roasted green chiles in your vehicle for the next week or so. But, heavenly! You still have to remove the skins, seeds and stems once you get them home. (See instructions for that below.)
Find green chile roasting events in your town. Melissa’s Produce is bringing roasters to cities all across the nation. Check out the schedule here.
Roast chilies fun fact: Chiles are not peppers. Chiles are actually spicer than peppers.
2.) Roast chilies over the gas flames of your stove
“We love hatch chilis in our family,” says food writer Sara Bowyer. “Usually, I will buy them from the guy on the corner in town who is roasting them in a cage while you wait. This is the time to buy them in bulk and freeze them! However, sometimes I just want a few roasted chilis, and they are so easy to do on your gas stove. In Arizona, our local grocery store will almost always have them fresh.
Once you get them home, wash the chilis and dry thoroughly. Turn your gas stove on to med/med-high. Place the chili right on top of the grate and use tongs to turn as each side gets black. Please do not leave them unattended! Once your chilis are black on the outside, place them in a paper sack or plastic bag to steam for at least 10 minutes. You can test if they are ready by seeing how easily the skin peels off. Peel and seed and enjoy in your favorite dish!”
Sara Bowyer, among other things, writes a food column for the Pinewood News in Munds Park, Arizona.
[The picture above depicts a Santa Fe School of Cooking stovetop grill that fits over your stove grates. But you can roast chiles directly on the grates of your gas stove.]
Roast chilies fun fact: Melissa’s Produce purveyor of all things Hatch chile just released a new cookbook JIT for Hatch season: Hatch Pepper Cookbook. I’ve already made two Hatch chiles recipes from this gorgeous cookbook.
3.) Roast chilies in the Traeger
Making my roast chilies in the Traeger smoker is the method I tried just this Hatch chile season. The reason that I like this method best is that it evenly roasts the pods. The goal of roasting is to blister the whole skin so that you can separate it from the chile flesh. However, when the heat source does not evenly roast the chile, it’s challenging to pull off the thick skin in one or two strips like a banana. Also, undercooked areas won’t let go and can slow down your processing time.
The uniform heat of my Traeger smoker cooked the fruit evenly, and I attributed that to the ease of peeling. I made fast work of skinning the fruit coming out of my pellet smoker. Don’t have a Traeger wood pellet grill and smoker, then check out mine here on Amazon.
Roast chilies fun fact: Hatch chiles are a fruit, not a vegetable. Chiles are related to cherries, eggplant and tomatoes.
How to roast green chiles in the Traeger
- Preheat your Traeger to 450° or “High.”
- Use plastic gloves to wash the green chiles, pat dry. Gloves protect your hands from the spicy oils that stay on your skin for quite some time. You definitely don’t want to get it in your eyes.
- Arrange the green chiles on the grill with a 0.5-1.0-inch gap between the chiles. This helps the smoke and airflow to cook the chiles evenly.
- Close the grill and cook for 10 minutes, or until the skin begins to blister and blacken.
- Turn the chiles and grill for another 10 minutes to blister the other side.
- Remove the chiles and place them into a brown paper bag.
- Seal the bag and let sit for at least 20 minutes until cool.
How I peel, deseed and destem Hatch green chiles
After the chiles are cooled, I prefer to peel the fruit while leaving the pod whole. After peeling all my Hatch chiles, I take them to the sink to destem and deseed under running water.
The water washes the tiny pesky seeds down away from the stem. While leaving the stem and placenta (the white interior from which the seeds attach) in place, I push my thumb through the pointed tip and make one tear up to the stem. Next, I flail out the fruit flat with the stem and placenta still in place. Then I put the stem-side under the running water, causing loose seeds to wash out. I use my finger to loosen the stringy seed pith if needed.
The final step is to pluck out the stem and placenta along with the remaining attached seeds.
Roast chilies fun fact: One fresh green chile pod has a much Vitamin C as six oranges. Lozenges are made with chile for the treatment of sore throats.
Check out my favorite Hatch chiles recipes here.
4.) Roast chilies traditionally in a horno oven
Throughout New Mexican tribal lands, green chiles are roasted outdoors in domed adobe horno ovens. If you don’t have a horno, you could adapt the method to your outdoor pizza oven. Here’s what food writer Linda Milks has to say, “My first exposure to Hatch chiles was at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico where Geronimo—who lives at the pueblo—cooked these delicious treats in his horno oven. Geronimo bakes bread in his oven, too, so on that day, he made around four loaves of rolls for us. Once the chiles were charred, our guide Angeles Murray of Heritage Inspirations, scooped some coals out as well as the chiles to let them finish charring. When the chiles were blackened, Angeles and Geronimo peeled, chopped and salted them. Then, to our delight, they gave us a roll smeared with butter and a generous serving of these roasted peppers. It was nirvana!
Hatch Chiles come from the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. It is said that the soil quality adds to the complex flavor and earthiness. Since the name Hatch chiles is a generic term referring to chiles grown in that region, they vary in hotness. They can range from being 1/3 as hot as jalapenos to as hot as jalapenos.
5.) Roast chilies under the broiler
I’ve roasted chilies under the broiler in my oven, but it’s challenging to observe the blistering effect of the heat. Maybe I’m just too tall or too old, but I don’t like hunching down to look into the oven to see if the chiles are blistering properly. That was one reason the fruit does not roast as evenly under the broiler as in the smoker. So here’s how I did it:
- Wash the chilis. Pat dry.
- Move the top rack in the oven as high up as possible.
- Turn the broiler to low.
- Lay the Hatch chiles on the rack and broil until the skin starts blistering and turning black.
- Turn the chiles with tongs and roast until you see blistering and blackening.
- Remove the roast chilies and place them into a brown paper bag.
- Seal the bag and let rest for at least twenty minutes until cool.
6.) Use your oven to roast chilies
This was my least favorite way to roast chilies, but I did not coat the fruit lightly in oil as some suggest, so maybe you could get better results that way. So this is what I did:
- Wash the chilis. Pat dry.
- Heat oven to 425°F
- Line baking tray with foil.
- Place chiles on tray in a single layer with space between each one.
- Put the tray in the upper third of the oven and bake for ten minutes or until the chilies start to blister and blacken.
- Turn the chilis over using tongs, and bake for another 10 minutes or until this side blisters and blackens.
- Remove the roast chilies and place them into a brown paper bag. (Some use plastic grocery bags.)
- Seal the bag and let rest for at least 20 minutes until cool.
Roast chilies fun fact: How many ways did I spell ‘chiles’ in the paragraph above? The State of New Mexico’s official spelling of the fruit—or sauce made from it—is ‘chile.’ That’s entered publicly into the Congressional Record! No more ‘chili,’ ‘chilies,’ or ‘chillies’ for this girl!
Get your own Hatch chile fix by shopping online at the Essential Hatch department at Melissa’s Produce or looking for her brand in the grocery store.
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