Pueblo Chile Roasted at Peppers and Petals in Blende, Colo. Red Pueblo Chile are just chile that is left longer on the vine. Pueblo chef / owner of Bingo Burger says they have more flavor. (Photo PULP)
Green chile — both the peppers and the dish — are about as synonymous with Pueblo as Bell Games and Medal of Honor recipients (and probably more so). For a small number of in-the-know Puebloans, however, red is where the flavor really is.
“We’re renowned for our green chile, but the red ones have a unique flavor. And it’s a great flavor,” says Cheri Pullara, owner of Pepper & Petals farm in Blende and longtime purveyor of red Pueblo chiles as well as green.
Pullara explains that the red chiles are actually the mature state of the more famous green pepper, and a big reason we don’t see nearly as many of the red peppers is that, especially earlier in the season, the peppers all tend to get picked faster than they can mature.
“As fall approaches, there’s more red ones than green ones,” she says, “whereas earlier in the season when we’re picking lots and lots of them, they don’t really have the chance to turn red. So green is kind of the main thing for August and early September, but by mid-September until frost, the red ones are a lot more prevalent.”
One of Pullara’s biggest customers for red Pueblo Chiles is Bingo Burger owner and executive chef Richard Warner, who’s been mixing exclusively red Pueblo Chiles into his burger patties since the very beginning.
“If you tell an old-timer Pueblo Chile aficionado, who’s been here for years, that a red Pueblo Chile is [still] a Pueblo Chile, they will just call you a big liar,” Warner says. “We’ve conditioned people, especially in Colorado, that it has to be green. They always say ‘green chile.’
For Warner, a green Pueblo Chile is akin to green bell pepper, in that it hasn’t yet attained its full measure of flavor.
“I think we’re differentiating ourselves a little by the fact that we choose to use a red Pueblo Chile,” he says. “The fire roasting certainly gives it a great flavor — I love that, [but] our Pueblo Chiles have so much more flavor when they stay on the vine three or four weeks longer.”
Richard Warner’s Red Pueblo Chile Salsa Recipe
This salsa made an appearance on Bingo Burger limited-edition “Bingo de Mayo” burger this past May. Even though Warner himself prefers red chiles, the recipe works just as well with green, depending, of course, on your taste. Feel free to swap out one or the other (or maybe even a mix of both!) to find out which one you like better.
To find fresh fire-roasted red Pueblo Chiles, stop by Pepper & Petals anytime between mid-September and mid-October, before the first frost of the year.
Richard Warner’s Pueblo Red Chile Salsa
1 lb. Fresh Tomatoes, diced (canned if out of season)
3-6 Fire Roasted Red Pueblo Chiles, de-skinned, deseeded,
1 Med. Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lime, zested & juiced
1/3 bunch Cilantro, chopped
3 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If using canned tomatoes, drain juice before mixing.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Start with less chile than you think you can tolerate and add more to suit your spice preference. If the flavor is not hot enough, add more chopped Pueblo Chile, serrano or jalapeño until adequate spice level is attained.
Let salsa sit mixed at room temperature for at least an hour to develop flavor.