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Labor Day weekend in Santa Fe has become an annual getaway, with a Saturday class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking at the top of the must-do list.

For the second year, instructor Michelle Chavez did the honors. Her demonstration class this year, “Mole and More,” was jam-packed with chile information and cooking tips, which culminated in a delicious lunch. We especially like her side dish, arroz verde (green rice).

“Mole means to grind,” she said. “Traditionally, stone bowls and pestles are used to crush the ingredients into a paste for the mole. I like to simmer the ingredients and then pulse them in a blender.”

While mixing the mole ingredients in a huge cast-iron pot, she gave us some facts about chiles.

“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, with one packing as much vitamin C as 10 oranges, Chavez said. With cold and flu season on our heels, there’s another reason to make chiles a staple.

Chavez has a streamlined way to roast chiles.

“Add them straight to the fire or flame on a gas stove,” she said. “Or you can buy the Santa Fe cooking school chile-roasting grate we sell.”

That 10-inch dome-shaped piece of durable, cast-iron mesh has wooden handles and fits over a gas or electric burner. It’s a nonsmoke, dry-roasting stovetop grill perfect for chiles, sweet peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, onions and other fresh vegetables. The grill costs $29.95 online at santafeschoolofcooking.com.

“Once you get the char you want, put the chiles into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap,” she said. “They will steam and loosen the skin. You’ll never get all the skin pulled off. Get used to it. That adds flavor.”

She roasted poblano chiles to use in arroz verde, the side dish for the mole.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

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Food editor

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

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