When most people think of New Mexican red chile, they often think of a savory spicy sauce. They think of tamales, of enchiladas, of carne adovada. One thing about all of those is that they are generally not sweet.
Fresh red chile is incredibly sweet, much more than green. Roasting then scraping the peels off gives a very different flavor profile than what the dried red from ristras gives. When the chiles dry naturally, they ferment, and the sugar turns into alcohol, which then evaporates away. Speaking of alcohol, I’m working on a roasted red chile mead. Stay tuned for updates on that.
If you are looking to add more sweetness to a recipe, I highly recommend using some roasted red. It is harder to peel than green chile, but the earthy sweetness plays a very nice bass to the fiery trumpet of the spice.
Fresh Hatch red chile is usually available in early September, with regions such as San Antonio or Lemitar following by about a week and a half. You can find it until the fields get their first frost, which tends to be somewhere around mid to late October.
We love roasting the red, even though most places don’t roast it. It is definitely harder to roast, as it takes longer and doesn’t peel as easily, but the end result is definitely worth it. One of my favorite times of the year is when fresh red comes in. It brings ristras too, while still being early enough for plenty of green chile to still be available. I think it is the best time of year in New Mexico.
I have a great butter chicken recipe I make with roasted red that I will share soon, stay tuned for that too.