Chiles are nutritious, producing high amounts of vitamin C, provitamin A, E, B, B2, and B3.

A green chile pod can contain six times as much vitamin C as an orange, but vitamin C content diminishes about 30% in canned and cooked chile.  As a green chile pod turns red, vitamin A content increases and you can meet your daily vitamin A requirement by consuming ½ tablespoon of ground red chile. Chile has been cited as a therapeutic agent for cancer, as a higher intake of carotene or vitamin A may reduce the risk of cancer.

Chile’s most recognizable trait is pungency. We feel heat from the capsaicinoids as a result of irritation of the trigeminal cells, which are pain receptors located in the mouth, nose, and stomach. When this signal to the brain tells us our mouth is on fire the brain floods the nerve ending with endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. The endorphin release gives the body a sense of pleasure and may be why people become “chile addicts.”

The NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station has played an important role in the growth of the New Mexico chile industry and remains one of the world’s most progressive and prestigious institutions for chile research. As one NMSU’s former president said, “Chile is what gives New Mexico its national identity.”

Try this traditional recipe for red chile sauce on your next enchilada.

Chile sauce

16 chile pods

1 T. minced onion

1 qt. boiling water

1 T. chopped garlic

1 t. salt

1 t. oregano

DIRECTIONS

Wash chile pods; remove stems, seeds, and white veins. Put in a pan, pour boiling water over them. Cook until tender. Place chile pods and seasoning in the blender and add enough of the water (which the chile was boiled) to cover pods, leaving about 1 inch space at top of container. Blend for 2 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add more water, if there is space and blend one minute or until skins disappear completely. Remove from container and add enough water to give desired consistency. If the chile sauce is too spicy you can add a can of tomato sauce to the above recipe.

Enchiladas 

The New Mexico way of making enchiladas follows:

Fry tortilla in oil, immerse in chile sauce, place on plate, sprinkle with grated cheese and chopped onion.

Cover with chile sauce, and place another tortilla on top; repeat the process; then pour enough chile sauce over them to cover tortillas. Two tortillas make one serving.

A fried egg may be served on top of the enchilada. If want to add some meat use cooked ground beef or cooked shredded chicken.

Adapted from Dr. Bosland, Ph.D. Professor Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, NMSU.

The Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service is a field office of  NMSU and is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and USDA cooperating. If you have questions call 648-2311 or email palmer@nmsu.edu