On Accidentally Moving to Green Chile Country
One thing I did not expect when I moved to Colorado was the green chile. I love green chile, I just didn’t put two and two together that Colorado is right next to New Mexico. I’ve long approximated everything green chile can do by broiling poblanos in my New York City apartment. Here’s one of my favorites, great for Thanksgiving leftovers, and here’s another one that’s a little more involved but is one of the best things you’ll ever make.
Ever since I first heard of the chile harvest in New Mexico, I’ve had romantic notions following the scent of roasting chiles to a grocery store parking lot in or near Hatch, New Mexico, where I’d have a batch of chiles roasted on the spot. So when we got to Denver in September, I was pleasantly surprised to find tons of stands on the side of the road hawking green chile, some just blocks from where we were staying. As it turns out, while Hatch is the nationally recognized epicenter of green chile, Colorodans love the stuff just as much. Green chile is on menus everywhere, served as a stew studded with clumps of pork and poured over smothered burritos or chilaquiles. I could finally realize my dream of buying a bunch of green chiles — a bushel — and having them roasted on the spot. I was beside myself. Michael was nonplussed. This is a familiar dynamic in our relationship when it comes to food, but he usually comes around by the time we’re eating whatever regional delicacy I’m so excited about.
In late October, we had settled into our apartment and the chile season was winding down. It was time. I did some research and ended up at The Chile Guys on Federal Boulevard, which is located in the front half of an enormous fireworks emporium. I ordered a bushel of mild green chile, and a half bushel of medium (Michael doesn’t like it very hot and I thought I could cut the mild with the medium). I wanted to get a half bushel of each but it would have cost more money, or not have been as good a value, or something, I don’t know, I wasn’t thinking straight. The guy behind the counter took my chiles to the big round propane roaster and my dream was realized.
When they were done, he dropped them off where I was waiting in two heavy duty trash bags emblazoned with The Chile Guys’ logo. The bags were hot, unwieldy, and really heavy. Our car was perfumed for weeks. I was so excited.
In reality, once I bagged it all up in one pound portions in freezer bags and tucked it all away in the freezer, it was only about 25 pounds. A figurative ton of chile if not a literal one. Michael was… bemused, let’s say. But he’s come around.
What am I going to do with all this chile? I kicked the can down the road by freezing it all, and we’re working our way through it slowly but surely. The two recipes above are definitely on the agenda, and scrambled eggs with green chile and melted cheese has been on the weekend breakfast menu pretty regularly. Tonight I made Rick Bayless’ Rajas con Crema and baked it into a crostata with leftover pie dough that I made for thanksgiving next week. It’s an experiment; I’ll let you know if it’s any good.