Fire up the grill: It’s chile season. And when it comes to Colorado’s iconic late summer food, it’s Pueblo chiles you want, the juicier rival of New Mexico’s smokier Hatch chiles. Debates between enthusiasts spark, well, heated opinions, but for Coloradans, the Pueblo chile is a state treasure.
Most likely originating in Mexico’s Oaxaca region, these chiles are mirasols—meaning “looking at the sun” in Spanish—as their tips bend skyward. But Pueblo chiles have come into their own on the St. Charles Mesa, east of Pueblo, with the help of hot, dry days and cool nights. Broader and thicker than Hatch chiles, Pueblo chiles roast to perfection and typically pack more heat, averaging 5,000 to 6,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is comparable to jalapenos. Hatch chiles typically fall under 3,000. Green chiles ramp up the heat, while red, mature chiles mellow with sweetness.
To jump-start your taste buds and celebrate the harvest, head for the annual Chile and Frijoles Festival in downtown Pueblo, Sept. 22-24. With music, cooking competitions and roasted chiles, it’s the premiere event for chile lovers. Details at festival.pueblochamber.org.
Or head straight to the source by following the Pueblo Chile Growers Association farm map of chile growers: pueblochile.org/farms.