Green chiles packed with vitamin C

{child_byline}By Teresa Farney

teresa.farney@gazette.com

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Escaping to Santa Fe for a few days of indulging in red and green chiles has become my Labor Day tradition. So has taking a Saturday morning class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

For the past four years, the demonstration class has been taught by Michelle Chavez. This year’s “Traditional New Mexican 1” was jampacked with chile information and cooking tips, and culminated in a delicious lunch. The entrees included chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce.

“Fresh green chiles are like fresh grapes,” Chavez said. “As the chiles ripen, they turn red, and they are dried in the sun and become like raisins. They get sweeter and deeper in flavor.”

A food historian, Chavez fills her class with interesting culinary facts. “All chiles originated in Mexico,” she said. “The long green, or Hatch, chile is a hybrid of chiles from Mexico. It’s a milder flavored pod. The jalapeño is just hot. The serrano, jalapeño’s evil sister, is hotter but with a great flavor.”

Green chiles have nutritional benefits, too. One pod has “as much vitamin C as 10 oranges.”

When it comes to heat level of chiles, she has some observations.

“For milder flavored chiles, look for ones that are straight and fat,” she said. “They have had more water to help the meat of the pod fill out. There will be fewer seeds, which equates to less heat.”

Chiles give you another physical clue as to their heat.

“Chiles that have their ends curled up will probably be hotter,” Chavez said. “They’ve been under stress.”

How chiles are roasted plays a part in their heat level too. Chavez is not a fan of big roasting operations you see this time of year in parking lots or at farmers markets. She says water should not be used on roasted green chiles.

“When you get chiles from a chile roaster, they spray water over them, washing away the flavor,” she said. “And the chiles get overcooked. The chile walls collapse, releasing the capsaicin, which is the heat of the chile, spreading it throughout the meat of the chile.”

She roasts chiles on a special roasting grate created for the Santa Fe Cooking School, available for sale at the school’s website, santafeschoolofcooking.com. The 10-inch, dome-shaped, durable, cast-iron mesh has wooden handles and fits over a gas or electric burner. The non-smoke, dry-roasting stove top grill is also perfect for sweet peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, onions and other fresh vegetables.

If you’re planning on roasting your own chiles, Chavez suggests picking the peppers in the morning. Then add them straight to the flame on a gas stove.

“You don’t want to cook the chile meat,” Chavez said. “Just blister the skin. Once you get the char you want, put the chiles into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. The plastic will puff up and then sink down. Then you know they have finished steaming and the skin has loosened. You’ll never get all the skin pulled off — get used to it. That adds flavor.”

To remove the charred skin, don’t run the chiles under water. Rub off the char and tear off the stem end. Then squeeze out the seeds.

Here’s her green chile sauce recipe. Since she’s from New Mexico, she uses Hatch green chiles, but our Pueblo chiles produce excellent results too.

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contact the writer: 636-0271.

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{child_related_content}{child_related_content_item}{child_related_content_style}Just The Facts{/child_related_content_style}{child_related_content_title}CHILE GREEN SAUCE{/child_related_content_title}{child_related_content_content}

Yield: 2 ½ cups

6 ounces chile peppers, halved and seeded

3 tablespoons corn oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed to taste

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

Set oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the oven’s broiler.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chile peppers cut-side down on baking sheet.

Broil in the preheated oven until skin is heavily blistered and turning black, about 4 minutes.

Transfer chile peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow peppers to steam as they cool, about 15 minutes. Peel and chop the chile peppers.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until mixture thickens. Stir in chopped chile peppers, coriander, beef broth and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors combine, about 10 minutes.

Source: Michelle Chavez, chef instructor, Santa Fe School of Cooking

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contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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