Roasting Chiles: If a Chile Were a Woman

If a chile were a woman, who would she be? Why María Félix, of course. La Gran Diva of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Muse to Agustín Lara, one of Mexico's greatest musical composers (María Bonita is about her). Painted by Diego Rivera. Successful thoroughbred racehorse owner. Collector of famous husbands and über-fine jewelry--she reportedly walked into the Cartier boutique in Paris with a baby crocodile in tow when she commissioned them to create a this gold double crocodile necklace studded with emeralds and yellow diamonds--and Chili-eater extraordinaire, María Félix was considered Mexico's most beautiful woman (take that, Salma Hayek). Celebrated in Europe and throughout the world, lionized and adored in her own country, especially by the male segment of the population (In this muy macho of countries, maybe it was love at first sight when they saw her character smack Pedro Armendariz upside the head in Enamorada, a Mexican-style Taming of the Shrew.) And all without going Hollywood or learning English. Not bad for a girl born in Sonora.
Fiery, intelligent, talented, flamboyant and beautiful. I like to think she had chiles with her caviar.
Roasting Chilies a la María Félix
Chilies and Mexican Cuisine are synonymous. For centuries chiles have been roasted over a flame to bring out their extraordinary flavor. You can use roasted chiles to make Chiles Rellenos, in salsas, tacos, soups, with caviar (well, why not?), you name it. Just roast a bunch of them and refrigerate. Why buy those bland little cans of chilies when you can roast chilies at the fraction of the price? And the flavor? I'm sure La Doña María Félix would have approved.

Roasting chiles is easy. Just choose the method you prefer. Remember to leave the stems intact. (Note: you can also roast tomatoes and tomatillos using the same methods.)

Step 1:

Stovetop Method #1: Take a pair of metal tongs and hold the chili over the flame until the skin is charred on all sides. This method is perfect if you are roasting a chili or two.

Stovetop Method #2: Place some chilies on a pan and roast them until all sides are charred.

Broiler Method: Preheat broiler to 500 degrees. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place chilies. Place about 5 to 7 inches from heat or flame. Check every 5 minutes or so, rotating chilies until the outer skin is charred. Remove from broiler. This method is good if you are roasting a lot of them.

BBQ or Grill Method (not shown): Place chilies on the barbeque or grill. Rotate until all sides are charred. This is probably the most delicious method because it imparts a certain smokiness which is hard to beat.

Note: The object is to roast the chiles, not burn them to death.

Step 2:
Place the roasted chilies in a plastic bag and seal. Then roll them up in a towel. There they will cook in their own juices for at least 30 minutes until they are tender.

Step 3:

Holding each chili by the stem, carefully use the back edge of a knife to scrape of the charred skin from the chili. Handle the chili very carefully, or your fingertips will burn. Or, use plastic gloves and carefully tear off the charred skin with your fingertips. If you want to reduce the heat factor, remove the seed and inner veins.

I love to eat my roasted chilies straight with my meal, or topped with a bit of queso fresco (a semi-soft, part-skim Mexican cheese found in the cheese section of your grocery store).
How does your abuelita roast her chiles, and what does she make with them? Just click "comments" link below.


Emma said...

¡Me encanta tu blog! Siento que te conozco, aunque obviamente nó es así. I'm really looking forward to more... oh, and I'm with you on the wraps! I've driven everyone around me to eye-rolling with my constant, "Chicken wrap? OH, YOU MEAN A CHICKEN TACO?" rants. You've inspired me to draft up a few new posts...


Akannie said...

I have just found you, and I will be back.

Lovely blog!

Gloria said...

....and I have roasted my chili's in all the ways you described. We grow every chili we can think of, especially habaneros. I really am enjoying your posts. Thanks for sharing.

Lambchop3 said...

Mi Abuela roasted her chilies in the oven...I still remember the smell! YUM!

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