Preparing Chiles

All, Methods, Vegetables

Anaheim (or California) chiles, New Mexico chiles, and Ancho (also called Pasilla) chiles are among the most popular large-size chiles used in Mexican and Southwestern food. Sometimes they are used raw, such as in our recipe for Chipotle Short Ribs. However most of the time they are peeled and seeded before use.

The chiles are usually roasted, either under a broiler, over an open flame, in a skillet, or in hot oil. I’ve never used the hot oil method, for fear of a chile popping open and splashing oil.

If you have a gas range, you can do as shown in the photo. Just place the chiles over the flame and turn with tongs until they get blistered all over. I have not tried this on an electric range, but it should still work. Doing large numbers of chiles at once it may be faster to use the broiler, but it still requires turning them over, and they don’t all blister at the same rate. I think this is one of those things that you just try and learn.

After the chiles get blistered all over, put them in a bag where they will steam themselves for 15 minutes or so. I use a plastic zip lock bag; others recommend a paper bag.

After you remove them from the bag, you will be able to peel off the skins with your fingers. Rinsing them under a slow stream of water from the faucet helps. After you get them peeled, you make a small slit near the top and pull out the pith with the seeds attached. Rinse the insides and more seeds will come out.

Now the chiles are ready for chiles rellenos, or to chop up for a salsa, or to put in omelets or tacos. The other morning I stuffed one with a piece of string cheese, warmed it in the skillet, wrapped it in scrambled egg, and had a great breakfast!

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