Good Eats and Chile

I really like that show “Good Eats”. I think the host is Alton Brown. Its fun, informative, and visually delicious. He’s like the Bill Nye of the food channel. Recently he did a facinating show on Chile(s) in all its wonderous varieties. Having grown up in Albuquerque, NM (State motto: Red or Green?) I am a huge fan of both red and green chile and import it yearly to my new home in the mid-west.

However, I had a HUGE problem with one of his “facts”. He was showing and naming many kinds of peppers. He was showing that certain types of well known peppers are just dried (or smoked) versions of other peppers. Like chipotle. The problem I have is that he said that drying anaheim peppers, yields New Mexico Red Chile. Not true. Only if the peppers you used were New Mexican green chile. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in New Mexico can tell you, the “anaheim” peppers you get in grocery stores around the country are NOT the same as Green Chile you get back home. And the “red chile” is definately not the same either.

I’m sure that Alton Brown would concede that the flavor of coffee and wine varies widely depending on where the grapes and beans were grown. The flavors and characteristics of those beans and grapes are affected by the soil, climate, and even the genetics of the strain of that plant being grown in that region for god knows how long. Calling any generic chile “new mexican” because its so similiar is akin to calling coffee grown in mexico “Kona Coffee”. Its inaccurate (to put is politely) and somewhat offensive to a purist.

Aw come on, now. Alton is great and it was probably his fact-finders who screwed up. Everybody makes a boo boo once in awhile. Email him and fight his ignorance.

All hail Alton!

You can keep your generic ‘New Mexican’ chile. I’ll only eat Hatch green chile. :wink:

(or not. I can get great chile right here, without driving to Hatch.)

I’m not too picky about it, as long as it tastes great. Here is what the Chile Pepper Institute says about it:

I will note that chile plants bought here in southern NM and planted in Van Nuys CA resulted in a ton of peppers with absolutely no heat. Seems to indicate that growing conditions do indeed play a big role in the final quality of the chile.

Hatch for green.

Chimayo for red.

I’m a big fan of AB. Everything I’ve read about him indicates that he is very friendly and open to his fans. He is also obviously interested in getting his facts straight.

You should e-mail him with this – I bet he’d respond.

Hatch is good as long as you’re talking about fresh peppers that you can roast yourself. They also sell packaged (peeled, chopped, and frozen) chile which I’ll use in the absence of fresh roasted. However Hatch uses a water peeling process to peel the peppers and washes away some of the flavor. Pre-packaged Hatch always taste a little bland in comparison to fresh roasted. I roast and peel my own, then vaccuum seal and freeze.

And while “anaheim” is a subgroup of the “new mexico chile”, as you stated: the plant has been taken and grown elsewhere (like California) resulting in a similiar looking, but inferior pepper. No heat, less flavor. This seems to be the pepper I find most commonly around the country when buying “anaheim” peppers. Once and only once, have I found fresh green chile in a state not bordering NM, that was the “real thing”. I passed a Price Chopper in K.C. and saw a huge sign reading: NEW MEXICO. Stopped to look, and in the window was another sign reading: HATCH, NEW MEXICO CHILE. Praise OG it was true. This Price Chopper was in an area with a high Hispanic population, and had actually imported fresh unroasted Hatch green chile. Mmmmmm. They had a HUGE display within 10 feet of the front door, with mounds of the stuff. They had roasted some samples to try! Not only that, they had even bothered to get different varieties (mild, medium, and hot). They were even giving away free DVDs with instructions on roasting, peeling, and even a few recipes. (Didn’t take one, though.) I did however buy a couple bushels worth. No one really needs freezer space for anything else do they?

Oh, also since I now live in the midwest, I stock up on dried chile powder, whenever I venture back to NM. There’s a Jackalope store near Santa Anna Casino that sells a wide variety of dried crushed chile and powders. Tried their dried Green chile powder for the first time a few years ago, and it makes a suprisingly good sauce. Better than using frozen Hatch. They also sell several varieties of red chile powder, including chimayo, and chipotle. Several heat levels too. They sell cheap, and in large quantities. I highly recommend them to anyone having to venture away from state. Stock up!