Linda Rosales shows fresh green chile she has for sale.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Linda Rosales is the Queen of New Mexico Chile. She was a lady in waiting for 46 years before she donned her crown last year at the New Mexico Chile Taste Off in Socorro.

Now with 47 years of experience in the Chile business, she’s well qualified to speak on the pepper that’s put New Mexico on the world stage.

Rosales works just as hard as the women and men who surround her at the Rosales produce stand just off exit 152 in Escondido. Coincidentally the last census population for the unincorporated community listed one resident for each of Rosales’ years of experience, but the exit off the highway is a busy one with most vehicles stopping in for the latest fresh fruit and vegetables.

When it’s green chile time, it’s extra busy, and Rosales steps from behind a set of chile roasters to talk about her love for green chile and some of the best ways to prepare it for storage and cooking.

There are two different schools of thought on whether or not to peel the chile after roasting and then freezing it or leaving the skin on and peeling it before cooking after unfreezing it.

For the reigning Queen of New Mexico Chile, there’s one answer.

“If you leave the skin on, it keeps the flavor better,” Rosales said. “Many people are busy and may prefer to do it all at once, but leaving the skin on holds the flavor better.”

Its flavor makes green chile grown in New Mexico famous, but Rosales admits it can also be a personal preference.

“The main thing to remember when preparing chile is to not put your hands up around your face and get the juice from the chile in your eyes,” Rosales. “Then prepare it in your favorite foods.”

Rosales even has a recommended dish for beginners.

“If you have never cooked with green chile before, I think it’s a good idea to start with a simple dish like chicken enchiladas. That’s a great dish to start with,” Rosales said.

The Queen has spoken.