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Local food enjoyed by a single man exploring the world at human speed.
|Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-09-20 20:21:07 | Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States|
Keywords: chile, spicy
|This time I won't talk you about a local dish, but about a single ingredient: the chile. No, not the country (I'm not that far South yet), but the vegetable. You'll see it everywhere in New Mexico... and not only in your dish. It's on display everywhere inside and outside of stores, houses, restaurants and hotels. Especially at this time of the year, you'll see strings of chiles called 'ristras' hung everywhere to make them dry, like Europeans do with garlic. Chiles are harvested from August to October in New Mexico... so that's the perfect time to buy them really fresh and dry them to use them all year long.|
Those ristras can also be bought in the markets or from local
vendors who string them for you. They of course provide a large
variety of colours, depending on the peppers chosen, and how far they
are along the drying process. It's usually just a series of chiles
stringed together with a thread. They are hung outside in the sun or
inside near a window to let the sun do the drying work. In a dry
climate like here, it will still take a couple of weeks to reach the
stage of the second phase of the picture below and they're ready to
be used in cooking as is. Add a few more weeks (3rd pane
of the photo below) and they're ready to be crushed. If you wanna
know how to make a ristra, check out this Youtube video.
But drying chiles isn't the only way to conserve them. You can
roast them... usually you'd do that on a BBQ or in the oven... then
peel off the top layer of the skin. After that operation, you can
freeze them. But that's a long and tedious process if you want to
store a large batch for the winter. So, there are roasters available
in many parking lots throughout cities and in the country side. They
roast a batch in front of you and you can leave with your warm
roasted chiles, as in the picture below. The chiles are farm-fresh
of course... and you can easily spot trucks on the road with large
jute bags through which you can see spots of green and red.
I had the chance to talk to such roaster here in Santa Fe. Just
at his small location, he had 8 or 10 propane roasters to be able to
serve clients coming by. It's very a very popular service in
cities... where people don't have the time to do a large batch at
home. In those parking roasters, you can have a large basket of
chiles freshly roasted just for you, in about 10-15 minutes. I
tasted the final product and it's extremely tasty.
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