red chile

Encyclopedia Article


A bitter red sauce that ranges in heat, or spiciness, from mild to scorching, derived from reconstituted dried and ground red chile pods. In New Mexico, chile is a primary cultural mainstay, both as an agricultural crop but also as a vernacular cuisine. Chiles can be harvested when they are green, or left to ripen on their stalks until they are red. These late-season red chiles are then dried and hung in ristras, or braided strings, of the drying pods. Once dried, red chile can be tossed whole into simmering soups and stews, such as posole, or ground and incorporated into a simple substance similar to gravy, but with a kick. Red chile the sauce, not the vegetable, can thus refer to a range of stews and preparations where the chile is the main flavor, meals that are often associated with large family gatherings, traditional meals associated with feasts and saints' days, and lots of tortillas.

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"Chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles) served with chile rojo and chile verde, August 31, 2014" by Lameirasb is licensed under CC BY-SA.

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