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Scorching, dry summers are generally undesirable—unless you’re Dominic DiSanti. The fifth-generation farmer of 132-year-old DiSanti Farms in Pueblo says parched growing seasons like 2022’s deliver perfect conditions for the Mirasol pepper, the popular heirloom chile variety grown in and around Pueblo that is notably meatier and spicier than its New Mexico–raised Hatch rival. In fact, the Mirasol crop is expected to be extra fiery this year, DiSanti says. After farms in southern Colorado begin harvesting the veggies in August or September, purveyors such as Anthony Rodriguez haul them to the Denver area, where he’s operated a roadside roasting stand for 17 years. As chile vendors start to set up along thoroughfares across the state this month, we asked DiSanti and Rodriguez for tips on bringing one of the region’s most iconic ingredients into your home kitchen.
Step 1: Shop
The best way to get raw chiles—typically for sale by the pound in varying heat levels, from mild to scorching—is by going straight to the source, DiSanti says. But for those who can’t make the drive down to a Pueblo farm, seeking out a stand—such as Rodriguez’s, which is set up in a parking lot off Wadsworth Boulevard and 44th Avenue in Wheat Ridge—is a surefire way to score high-quality peppers. There, Rodriguez roasts them to smoky perfection on an open flame, the preferred way to prepare them. (You can also char them at home in the oven or on the grill.) To test the product’s quality, Rodriguez suggests buying a raw one and cracking it open: “If it’s crunchy, it’s fresh. And if you’re feeling risky, you can even take a bite.”
Step 2: Savor
You can incorporate the piquant ingredient into an endless roster of dishes, from cornbread with a kick to a candied condiment for granola or ice cream. (Find those recipes and more from the Pueblo Chile Growers Association.) DiSanti and his family, though, prefer the pepper in the Southwest’s most famous stew (see his mother’s recipe at right). “My wife [and mom] make a killer pork green chile,” he says. “I look forward to it every year.”
Step 3: Store
Metro-area stands usually shut down toward the end of October or early November, but sweat fiends can stock up on the roasted specimens and enjoy them year-round. Before tucking the chiles into your icebox, remove their blistered skins—an unwelcome texture in most dishes—by gently rubbing each one in a container of fresh water. Then, place five to 10 of the beauties in a freezer-safe food storage bag, which will protect their fiery taste for up to 12 months. You can also leave the charred skins on, Rodriguez says. Either way, don’t forget to wear gloves: Pueblo peppers can reach 20,000 Scoville heat units (and likely will, this year), nearly four times the spice of the average jalapeño.
Rose Ann DiSanti’s Green Chile
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 lb. cubed pork
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. garlic, finely chopped
8 oz. tomatoes, diced
8–10 Pueblo green chiles, roasted, skinned, and diced
3–4 cups water or chicken broth
Salt to taste
In a large skillet, brown the pork in the oil over medium-high heat. Remove the pork from the pan, but leave the oil and add the flour to it. Stir until the mixture thickens, then add the garlic, tomato, chiles, and cooked pork. Add water or chicken broth until the chile reaches your desired consistency. Season with a dash of salt to taste. Once the stew comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low until you’re ready to serve it in a bowl topped with shredded cheddar, inside a breakfast burrito, or smothered over chile rellenos.