Green Chiles: Tips and Tricks

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Green chile roasting is definitely an art.  It can be hard to get it exactly right. I remember as a child growing up the men in our church congregation would lay the chiles on the grass and blow torch them and burn the grass at the same time.  We used Bermuda grass as our lawns and it had to be burned back every year.  Then the women would sit on the porch and peel chiles.  My friend Barbi Maez has a better way to do this. 

Since roasting chiles is tricky, buy them already roasted at the grocery store. Make sure you have them roast the chiles completely. They might not roast them enough trying to get you through the line.  Make sure they are completely roasted. 

As soon as you bring them home, cover long tables with cut garbage bags.  This will be messy. Then cover the long tables with butcher paper. 

Wear two layers of gloves.  First nitrile gloves (like what you get at Costco) and then food service gloves. 

Fill several tubs with cool water. Barbi uses tubs you can get at the Dollar Store that hold crayons and pencils.  Place the green chiles in the water.  Remove the stems and skins and discard them in a pile on the table.  Change out the water as needed, it can get quite black.  Switch the chiles to a new tub to see what still needs to be peeled.  Keep the seeds and veins if you want the heat. 

Lay the peeled the chiles on the table to cool.  Bag them in freezer bags.  Barbi puts 16 chiles in each bag since they go through them quickly.  You might want smaller quantities if you don't eat green chiles very often. 

The heat of chiles is dependent on color. Red can be mild, green can be hot or vice versa.  It depends on the variety and how much of the seeds and veins remain.  

If you are making something with green or red chiles and it is too hot for your taste, don't throw it out.  Try these tricks first: 

Add acid.  I like to add lime juice to salsa if it is too hot for my taste.  

Add dairy. Add some cream or milk if it's too hot.  

Add salt. Sometimes salt can help temper the heat, but don't add too much or it'll be too salty.

Add sweet. When I was a girl, if I ate something that was too spicy, my mother would sprinkle white sugar on white bread and have me eat it.  It tamed the fire.  Try a little white sugar in your dish if you'd like.