by Kate Heyhoe
Among their many uses, roasted chiles and peppers are called for in sauces, pasta dishes, stews, eggs and sweet peppers are especially delicious when dressed with olive oil and anchovies. Green chile peppers, such as Anaheims and poblano chiles, and sweet red and yellow bell peppers are varieties most often roasted to remove the tough outer skin and add flavor.
To roast peppers, place them over an open flame or under a broiler until blistered and charred on all sides. You may also choose to rub the chiles with some vegetable oil first, as the oil will help conduct the heat faster and more evenly. Then let them steam in a tightly covered bowl until cool enough to handle. Place the cooled chiles in a strainer over the bowl. The blackened skin will easily slip off, and the bowl will catch the sweet, flavorful juices. Remove the loose seeds and discard them along with the skin. Depending on the recipe, you may or may not want to discard the stem (keep the stem for chile rellenos, stuffed chiles).
Fresh green chiles are seasonal. To store them for winter use, roast the chiles as described above, leaving the charred skin on, then seal them well in zipper bags. Remove the skin when thawed, before cooking, again catching the juices. You can freeze green chiles as well as sweet bell peppers.
Note: Some recipes say to remove the charred skin by running the whole pepper or chile under running water. While this method is indeed quicker and less messy, it also loses all the intensely flavored juices. I prefer to use the strainer method described above, running my fingers under running water as they become coated with the charred skin, rather than holding the pepper under the water. This way, the chiles are cleaned without sacrificing their wonderfully sweet, concentrated juices.
While you may substitute canned roasted chiles for fresh roasted ones, you'll definitely notice a change in the depth of flavor. But if you are looking for a shortcut, try roasting a batch on the barbecue grill, then freezing them as described above. And if you have a large grilling area, it takes almost as much time to roast 2 as it does to roast 12.
Recipe: Chile Rellenos
In addition to Mexico, recipes with chiles (or chillis, hot peppers, etc.) can be found in the cuisines of many other countries. Check out Destinations section, or use our Search feature to find chile recipes from around the world.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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