This is one of the top ten things that we in Colorado and New Mexico have to explain to out of towners.  Green chile is not chili.  And, yes, it’s best if someone asks you, “Do you want that smothered?,” that you comply.  You will then be asked “Red or Green,” and if you don’t want to look like a foreigner,  you’ll know that the red chile is usually more mild, as it has been kissed by the frost at the end of the growing season, turning the green chiles fully ripe.  Finally, if you want to pass as a local, you can reply “Christmas” which is a combination of both the red and green.  And, yes, “We really do put this shit on everything,” as they say from grits and burgers, to most Mexican dishes,and even to being served as its own stew (which is probably the most common version, if you are just asked, “Do you want some green chile?,” they are referring to the stew.

The New Mexico green chile season is from mid-September to the first week of October.  We had 2 bags (2 1/2 bushels each) roasted this season, with a big party to solicit help with the peeling and bagging of them all.  We like mixing one bag of the hot Sandias with one bag of the medium-hot Red Big Jim grown in the Hatch valley.  Then, after roasting and peeling into 1/2 cup plastic bags for freezing.  Hatch chiles should  not be confused with the less desirable Mexican and Pueblo, Colorado chiles.  The Hatch Valley is famous for its great flavor and is legendary in the Western United States for growing the best green chiles.   The chiles vary in heat, depending on the place in the Hatch valley, the time of harvest, and the amount of moisture during the season.  This always creates a pleasant surprise for the cook, as you never know for sure how much to use without tasting the recipes as you add.

Mild, (New Mexico #20) ranges in size from 6-9 inches, and has a very mild flavor with little to no heat.

Medium, (Big Jim) is a variety co-developed in Hatch. It is a large meaty variety ranging in size from 7-10 inches in length.

Hot, (Sandia) is a smaller variety which will range from 5-8 inches. This is a variety that is a favorite among those who love very spicy foods. It can be more difficult to peel the burnt skin from these than the Big Jims, but is worth the extra effort.

Extra-Hot, (Barker) is our smallest variety, but it packs quite a punch in the heat department.   It is difficult to peel and, thus, we avoid them.

Our favorite recipes for green chiles are:Green Chile Peeling