New Mexico may be best known for both their chile peppers and their red or green chili sauce - which is practically the "state question". Whenever you visit a restaurant in New Mexico, your waiter or waitress will ask "red or green?". Sauces play an important role in New Mexican cuisine. And which one is better is always a hot debate throughout New Mexico.
Located in the center of the Rio Grande agricultural territory is Hatch, New Mexico which is the self proclaimed Chile Capital of the World. "Hatch chiles" refer to the five or six main cultivated varieties of New Mexico chiles grown in and around the town of Hatch. Our New Mexico Chiles are from this small region.
The dried New Mexico Chiles are 5" to 7" long and 2" wide while slowly tapering to a blunt end.
There are approximately 5 chiles per ounce.
New Mexico Chiles when ground into a powder is also known as the table condiment “molido” or “New Mexico Molido”.
History and Cultivation
Native to Central Mexico and a member of the chile species Capsicum annuum, most of these varieties of chiles have been developed over the last 130 years at New Mexico State University. These New Mexico chiles are planted in early April and are harvested in August. By the end of summer, the green chiles are ripening and changing to a deep, rich red color. This changes the flavor of the chile, as it becomes a bit mellower and sweeter as it matures.
During August and September throughout New Mexico, you’ll find colorful strings of hanging red New Mexico chiles called ristras. While spectacular to look at once they're dried, these chiles are used as a base in their famous red chile sauce.
Appearance, Heat and Flavor Profile
The New Mexico Chile possesses an earthy, sweet flavor with hints of acidity, weediness and dried cherry undertones.
The heat is often described as crisp and clear. New Mexico chiles are often confused with their close relative the Anaheim Chile Peppers (also called California Chiles). New Mexico chiles, while considered a mild heat chile, are a bit hotter at 800-1,400 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and more flavorful than the California Chiles.
How To Use
You can add dried New Mexico Chiles directly to your recipes – diced, sliced or pureed. The whole dried pod can be ground in your spice or coffee grinder (with or without the seeds, depending on your heat tolerance). You can also roast them first to release additional flavor in a nonstick skillet for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to use low to medium heat for this and be careful not to burn or scorch the chiles. They can also be re-hydrated by pouring hot (not boiling) water over them and letting sit about 10-15 minutes. Don’t let them soak longer, as they tend to become bitter.
New Mexico Chiles are commonly used in Southwestern and Mexican dishes that add piquancy (or zest) to red sauces, chile con queso, chile rellenos, chile verde, chutneys, salsas, soups, seasonings, stews and dry rubs. We also love to roast them and use in salads, dips and sandwiches. One of our commercial baker customers infuses them into her chocolate.