There’s an Autumn Chile in the Air

Here in the Southwest, autumn sets in with a peculiar scent. It’s smoky but not unpleasant and if you’ve experienced it before, it’s certain to bring a smile. This is the smell of roasting chiles – stronger as you approach the New Mexican border but lingering in the parking lots of every Latino grocery and festival. The roaster stands hard at work, sweat on his brow as he throws back an iced horchata. One gallon ziploc bags are sold out everywhere.

Anaheim Chiles from Desert Roots CSA

We have odd mix of autumn vegetables in our CSA this time of year. There are a few eggplant, black eyed peas, onions, sweet potatoes, arugula, melon and chiles. Chiles are a part of my family heritage. My grandfather often carried a small pepper grinder (un molino) in his shirt pocket where he housed the hot ones. My mother and my grandmother rolled hundreds of roasted chiles up in egg roll wrappers together with Monterrey Jack cheese creating the perfect after school snack. And that is just the way we purchased them, by the 100 lbs!

The fact is that I’ve been so spoiled by this family legacy that I absolutely cannot eat green chiles from a can. In restaurants, I always inquire, “do you roast your own?’. And if you don’t think there is a difference, I challenge you to a taste-off, knowing that you’ll come away convinced.

While it’s easiest to buy from the roaster in the parking lot, when my CSA contains fresh chiles, it’s not worth the gas or the time to go there and it’s so simple to fire up the outside grill. Even though it’s autumn, our daily temperatures are still in the 80s so it’s nice not to use the oven.

Chiles roasting on the Grill

We wait until the peppers blister and pop and then transfer them to the bag they arrived in to set and to cool. This makes the peeling and the seeding easier. One word of caution on working with chiles: unless you know for certain that they are mild, it is best to wear surgical gloves when working with them. I know all too well about the burns and blisters that hot chiles can leave on unprotected fingers and hands.

Anaheim Mild Chiles

The chiles can be frozen before peeling and used throughout the year. In my case, I’m going to use these up right away to try the stew recipe below. If you do save them for use throughout the year, they bring that distinct autumn in the Southwest feel to any dish.  And while in the Southwest we have more golden sunshine than golden leaves, the fragrant haze reminds us that cooler temps and casseroles are nearby.

Do you have fall favorite?

Roasted Chile Stew with Sweet Potato, Corn and Lime
Adapted from the glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.comServes 6

  • 1 lb. organic ground free range beef (optional)
  • 30 oz. of cooked black beans
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 heaping cups chopped roasted chiles
  • 1 large or 2 smaller sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups broth, or so- as needed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 fresh limes
  • A pinch of sugar, if needed
For serving:
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro chopped
If you’re using meat, brown it in a large skillet and pour off the fat. Put the beef into a slow cooker. (If you do use beef, then you can cut the beans down to 15 oz.) Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, roasted chiles, sweet potato, beans, corn and tomatoes. Stir together. Pour enough in enough broth to cover the ingredients. (You can add more broth for a more soupy texture) Add in the spices, sea salt and pepper.  Stir and cover.
Cook on low 6 – 8 hours. Just before serving, add the lime juice . Serve with slices of ripe avocado and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro on top.
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  1. *swooning*…over the scent of your chile-filled air and the recipe.

  2. Lisa H

     /  October 11, 2011

    Although I do not eat chiles myself, the memories are vivid for me also. Mom would stand over the gas stove to burn off the skins in order to make her stuffed jalapenos. Then there was the time DH brought home a black trash bag full from a street roaster–it was at least 10 pounds. We peeled and froze them so later in the season when they aren’t available, we would pull a couple peppers out of the freezer for him to add to dishes.

  3. Oh, man. Do I ever wish I had some of THAT : )

  4. You had me at “There’s a Autumn Chile in the Air”. This will be simmering on the stove soon…as soon as I can get all of the ingredients together. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have to admit that I have not yet been admitted to the roasted chili fan club. Part of it might be that I’m just in the wrong food culture up here… Rumor and reliable sources suggest that I ought to head down to the Southwest to explore.

    The stew sounds pretty delicious!

  6. I’ve copied the recipe and will try this. sounds yum yum. 😉

  7. Renee

     /  October 11, 2011

    I’ve never roasted chiles before, but would like to try it. And I’d love to try the stew recipe. It sounds delicious!

  8. I love peppers and roasted peppers are even more delish! Enjoy the dish.

  9. Oh yeah, I think the recent trouble I stirred up online brought me home from work..where I cooked, Shrimp Fondue, and Trout Almondine all night , instinctively throwing down-home Taco Bar dinner on the Kitchen Counter…though, I think the poblano, scallions, and fresh lime squeeze baptized the usual sort cream, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese into rebirth…

    just wanted to thank you for your comment on my recent post, which, apparently someone found the writer of to be an intriguer of his country… as at precisely 9 A.M. the following day, ( Yesterday morning )some program hop – scotched over my Max Security program, and shut my “Windows” , so I had no chance of reconfiguring the hard drive obliteration bug they sent me…Imagine that…

    seems it just doesn’t pay to chide the “Um Hum ” department…as this is my 3rd new computer this year….But, after all my frustrations…imagine my elation’s… I’m back on line…only to find that this last post… was my 2nd most popular viewed … Ever!!! Bless You

  10. Tammy . . .your title and post are so wonderfully put together. You not only cook, you write about it in such a passionate way. 🙂 Okay, my hubby and oldest daughter love hot things. So, I’m thinking roasted chilies would be great for them. This stew sounds 1000 times better than the one I currently make. I’m excited! You make cooking fun! Thank you!

    • And these were very mild chiles. It’s always easy to make it hotter – the reverse, not so much.

  11. This reminds me of Vada Pav- a typical Indian burger that’s served with roasted/fried chilies. It is less fiery, has great smell and tastes amazing.

    Oh and your headline got me. Fantastic.

  12. what a lovely memory 🙂

  13. that recipe is making my mouth water

  14. I haven’t experienced roasted chiles yet, but I do LOVE the scent of autumn! It’s been getting chilly and rainy here these past few weeks, but I only felt like it’s autumn after last night’s walk home when I could breathe in this scent of the season 🙂

  15. Oh yeah, my wife burned her hands with chili peppers a couple years ago while preparing some fantastic meal. She had no idea what was going on. (But the meal was indeed delicious..)

  16. I just heard something on the radio show “the Splendid Table” about roasted chilies in the southwest this time of year. Sounds amazing! Wish I could get my hands on some of those! A quick trip to Arizona would be ideal, but instead I will revel in the glorious autumn colors and a meal of fresh Lake Trout in the mountains. But that stew must be made somehow …. Better make emergency calls to my foody friends to see where they would look for those chilies.
    Thanks, Tammy.

  17. That receipe sounds really good, Tammy. Best of all, everyone else in my household will say it’s too spicy, meaning I won’t have to share. 🙂

  18. That’s something else I miss about living in the southwest.

  19. I love the scent of roasting/roasted chiles. Your stew sounds delicious! 🙂

  20. What a delicious post, Tammy. You have the most wonderful way of bringing us into your world, so that we can virtually touch, taste and smell it. Thank you!

  21. No, I have never experienced mass open-air roasting of chillis – but I would be prepared to give it a try! When handling chillis I’ve often been aware for some time afterwards, that the burning sensation can easily transfer to other bolidy parts – like the eyes (ouch!) but I’ve never actually had blisters from touching them. That takes a SERIOUSLY hot chilli, surely! A lovely little insight into life in southern California – thank you!

  22. That chili sounds great – I’m going to try making it.

    I agree with you about the gloves–I canned hot peppers a few days ago and the gloves are an absolute must–especially if you wear contacts like me and don’t want set your eyeballs of fire changing them!

  23. I’ve been in Santa Fe when great barrels of roasting Hatch chilis fill the air with heady spice and smoke–so I know that these Anaheims must be wonderful too. I have some in my freezer right now. Your recipe would be terrific with or without the beef.

  24. Tammy, this is terrible, but I’ve never even heard of roasted chiles! I see them packaged on the shelf, lovely and shiny…I suppose it comes of never living in a part of the world where they grow….now it is on my list of things to sample when I come to your part of the world 🙂 Thanks.

  25. What beautiful chiles and what a flavorful sounding dish. So bright and full of the lush colors of fall. Thanks for sharing this Tammy! I have a great give away from the Fairy Hobmother today for a $100 Amazon Gift card if you hvae time to pop by. Just make sure to make a “wish” for him to visit you in my comments. Take care! 🙂

  26. Interesting! Here I have not seen this type of chilies – I know only the strong ones!

  27. Great post! Well done.

  28. We definitely don’t have people roasting peppers all over in Wisconsin! I have been wondering how to give my chilli that something extra, so I may fire up the grill for the last of the CSA peppers! My mouth is watering already.

  29. Love Anaheim chiles, too. They are one of those foods there’s never a time you don’t feel like having them! Did that make sense?!
    I even eat them plain: Oh, yeah, I can do a bowl ‘O’ chiles 😀
    Last time I had them, I just mixed them with an equal amount of carmelized onions, yummy :^)

  30. Over here, autumn comes with an aromatic scent of rain, leaves, and forest soil. Some roasted pepper flavors would perfectly go with that! 🙂

    Your recipe always look so great, I wish you’ll include pictures of them one day.

    • I always decide to cook after I blog but I will attempt to add some post-cooking photos. You’re not the first one to ask.

  31. I love the taste of green chillies myself..sometimes just having it raw along with curd(Not the too hot ones) and sometimes roasted with just a dash of oil. I guess once into it , it is something you cant give up.

  32. Ahhhh roasted peppers….yummm


  33. I love this post. I particularly like imagining your grandfather carrying around a portable pepper grinder! A man after my own heart. And those little “snacks” sound to die for…

    • They are so good. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to put them away without consequences now but when I was younger – yum!

  34. I could perfectly picture that opening. I’ve never been to the Southwest, but for some reason I have this desire to visit New Mexico & explore the culture, landscapes, art.

  35. Now that you mention it, I haven’t considered buying canned roasted chilis… well, ever. (Except for piquillos.) The stew sounds fantastic!


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