Lumbre chile is a relatively new New Mexico chile variety which is quite spicy. It was developed by Jimmy Lyttle, son of “Big Jim” Lyttle. Considering Big Jim is arguably the most famous New Mexico chile, that is some spicy heritage they have.
When compared to other chile peppers, New Mexico chile in general is not too spicy. The main reason it is so popular is for its flavor, size, and the thick, meaty texture. Spice is important, but there are far spicier chile varieties available. Even a jalapeno is more spicy than most New Mexico chile.
Lumbre is an exception to this rule. Lumbre chile is so spicy that it makes our eyes water when we bag it after roasting. In order to ensure quality, I need to sample chile when it comes in. Lumbre is a chile I dread tasting, even if I only break a piece off at the relatively mild tip. For reference regarding raw chile, only about 5% of the spice will be in the tip, where about half will be in the inch near the tip. After roasting, many of the cell walls are broken, juices flow, and the heat will be more balanced throughout the chile.
Regarding size, Lumbre is fairly large compared to most hot chile peppers, but quite small compared with most New Mexico chile varieties. It grows about 4-5 inches long, and has thinner walls than other varieties. It also curves more, and often has a hooked tip. The veins inside are pretty much all tinged shades of yellow, orange, and red. Altogether it is a quite beautiful chile.
Roasting Lumbre Chile
Despite being much smaller than other varieties, Lumbre actually roasts quite well. The peel is thin, and blisters quite easily. This means it can peel well before the chile starts to burn. If you want to get roasted lumbre chile in Albuquerque, we are open from August to the end of October every year at 2010 Eubank, Albuquerque, NM 87112.