It’s Green Chile Season!

- September 7, 2011

"This delicious New Mexico staple not only tastes great, it's good for you! "

It's chile time once again! The fragrant smell of roasting green chile fills the air this time of year, as chile farmers harvest their fruit and set up roadside roasting stands across the state so we can purchase the fruit and take it home, where it's turned into delicious green chile sauces, stews and apple pies.

This delicious New Mexico staple not only tastes great, it's good for you! Filled with vitamins A and C, a single green chile can contain as much vitamin C as six oranges. Chile also contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant that boosts your cardiovascular system as well as immune system, eyes and skin. Chile also is full of vitamins E and B as well as magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron. Green chile also helps prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol and is low in fat and calories.

The capsaicin stored in the veins and seeds of green chile not only provides the heat, but also helps dissolve blood clots and improves digestion. It can increase your metabolism to burn calories and lower your appetite as well as improve your mood by releasing endorphins. Capsaicin also improves your circulation, which lowers your blood pressure and helps control your heart rate. And capsaicin can provide relief from arthritis and sore muscles.

Chile is a fruit pod of a plant from the nightshade family solanaceae, of the capsicum genus. Its siblings in this nightshade family include eggplant, tomatoes and tobacco. It is native to Central America, where it was a spicy ingredient used in Mexican cuisine for a few thousand years. Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the fruit to Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Pueblo Indians used chile as an herbal medicine, a wound disinfectant and a food preservative.

This small perennial shrub has a woody stem that produces white flowers. The pods range in size, color, shape and heat, from the bell peppers to the elongated chile peppers and the heat is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). A bell pepper rates 0 on the SHU scale, while a habanero can measure up to 500,000 SHU.

Here are a few recipes featuring the fabulous green chile!

Green Chile Apple Pie (From New Mexico Magazine)

1 ½ quarts of tart apples, peeled and sliced

½ cup fresh New Mexico green chile, roasted, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup white sugar

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup flour

½ cup butter

½ cup chopped pecans, walnuts or pinons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9- or 10-inch pie plate.

Toss apples, green chile, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice together and place in a mound in pie plate. Rub butter, brown sugar and flour together until crumbly and pack evenly over apples. Sprinkle with nuts and press slightly to hold.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until apples are tender. You may want to cover the pie with aluminum foil toward the end of baking time so that the nuts won't burn. Serve and enjoy!

Green Chile Sauce (From Summer in Santa Fe by Janet Mitchell and Johanna

This sauce pairs well with burritos, potatoes and eggs and can be used as a base for green chile stews and soups.

3 cups roasted, peeled and diced fresh New Mexico green chile

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano)

1 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander seeds

1 ½ cups chicken broth

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in flour and continue cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in broth and add remaining ingredients, except cilantro. Simmer sauce for 15 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Add cilantro and taste to adjust seasoning.