Many of the recipes I write call for roasted chiles, but I don’t think I have ever shared a tutorial on exactly how to roast these beautiful ingredients. So today is your day!
There are many types of chiles at the super market, but 99.9% of the recipes that I create calling for roasted chiles are either Poblano chiles or Anaheim chiles, all very mildly spicy. Hatch green chiles are also good for roasting, but those are seasonal, and oddly enough we don’t see those that often in South Texas. Hatch chiles are available near El Paso, closer to New Mexico, where they are grown.
Roasting Chiles is Easy
All chiles have been hybridized from the same plant, the wild chile piquin. Similar to the different types of corn available, like popcorn and sweet corn, we have different types of chile hybrids. Bell peppers were hybridized to be mild, pleasant and sweet, while scary hot ghost peppers were hybridized to envelope you in hopeless regret.
Poblano, Anaheim, and Hatch are the three best types of roasting chiles that are available in US supermarkets.
Rinse the chiles under running water, and place directly on an open gas flame. Use tongs to turn them every 30-60 seconds, so that they brown evenly. The skin of the chiles will pop as they roast, which is normal. Total roasting time will be between 5-7 minutes.
If you have to roast more than 1-2 chiles, or you don’t have a gas stove, you can dry roast chiles under the broiler in your oven. Simply place the pan under the heat broiler, and allow the chiles to roast until they are well browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the chiles over with a pair of tongs, making sure both side are well roasted. Brushing them with vegetable oil is not necessary.
Roast. Sweat. Peel. Eat.
Once the chile is completely browned and blistered, place the roasted chile in a clean kitchen towel, and then place the towel bundle in a paper bag for at least 15 minutes to “sweat.” Sometimes I roast the chiles in advance, and leave them in the bag for several hours.
Some people recommend wrapping the roasted chile in a plastic bag, but that would not be my advice. You never know what chemicals will steam out of the plastic and into your food. Stick with cloth and paper. I usually wrap the paper bag in another insulating layer of towels, to keep in more heat.
After the chiles have “sweated,” remove them from the bag and scrape off the skin, using a knife. Slit open the chile, and remove the seeds. If you are making chiles rellenos, or stuffed peppers, do not remove the tops of the chiles. If you are making rajas (as shown in the bottom photo) you will need to remove the top stem.
Advice on Roasting Chile Peppers
Although I use my bare hands in this photo, you can certainly opt for using gloves when you handle chiles. Chiles can irritate your hands, and touching your face or eyes after handling chiles is a painful no-no. Rinsing the chiles helps remove all of the seeds efficiently, and cuts down on the amount of time that you handle the chiles.
Not all chiles are good for roasting. Bell peppers are ok for roasting, but the red version of roasted bell peppers is the hands down winner. Poblanos, Anaheim or Hatch chiles are mild in flavor but have tough skins that can handle roasting.
Dried chiles (such as chile de arbol, chile ancho, chile pasilla, chile guajillo, or chile chipotle) can be lightly dry roasted for 15 – 20 seconds under a heated broiler, or on the stovetop with a small amount of vegetable oil in a pan. But if you have respiratory issues, allergies, or have poor ventilation in your kitchen, I do not recommend roasting dried chiles. You might have a bad reaction.
Green serrano chiles or jalapeños can be roasted, but not in the same way as Poblanos, Anaheim or Hatch chiles. I prefer to roast these chiles on the stove top in a small pan, with a few spoonfuls of vegetable oil. If you need to roast a large amount of them, you can brush these chiles with vegetable oil, and roast under the broiler. But just like dried chiles, because the jalapeños and serrano chiles are spicier, their roasting fumes will be stronger, and could have a bigger effect on you. Use caution when roasting these chiles.