The Anaheim Pepper belongs to the species Capsicum annuum, the same species as the jalapeño and bell pepper. The Anaheim is a variety of pepper that has been cultivated to be much larger and milder than many others in the species. Originally cultivated in New Mexico, the Anaheim was introduced to California by Emilio Ortega one hundred and ten years ago. Ortega began selling the chili through the company that bears his name. Since Ortega began selling the pepper out of Anaheim, California, it has become widely known as the Anaheim pepper, or Anaheim chile. Anaheims are typically found fire roasted and canned, but are also widely available fresh. There are several varieties of Anaheim, and the heat levels of them range from a mild 500 on the Scoville scale to about 5,000. In New Mexico, the Anaheim pepper is referred to as the New Mexico chile, and they are typically cultivated to be significantly hotter than the average Anaheim. Hatch chiles are Anaheims that are grown in or near the town of Hatch, New Mexico, and are popularly sold fire roasted throughout the Southwest United States. The Hatch variety of Anaheim peppers can range from very mild to being much spicier than jalapeños. There are several other aliases that Anaheim peppers go by including California chile, and Magdalena. Most Anaheims are sold green and immature. When Anaheims are fully mature and turn from green to dark red, they are commonly called chile colorado (named for the color, not the state.) Dried Anaheims are known as chile seco del norte.
Anaheims lend themselves to such dishes as chiles rellenos and other stuffed pepper dishes. Various cheeses and lean meats go very well with Anaheim peppers. Anaheims are generally roasted or grilled in order to bring out the best flavor. They can be combined with black beans and tomatoes for a variety of appetizers and side dishes. Roasted Anaheims are great toppings for burgers and sandwiches. They can also be a great way to spice up breakfast, they go very well with eggs. Because the flavors and heat levels are similar, Anaheims can work as a fine substitute for poblano peppers.
When shopping for fresh Anaheims, pick ones that are smooth, slightly shiny and firm to the touch. They can be kept at room temperature for about a week. When the skin wrinkles and the pepper grows soft, it is time to throw it away. The ideal way to prepare a fresh Anaheim is to grill it. Simply place whole Anaheims on a hot grill, flipping occasionally until the skin is charred all the way around. After the peppers are well grilled, pull the blackened skin off by hand and discard. Carefully pull the stem off the pepper, and scrape out the seeds and white membranes. Then rinse the peppers and gently pat them dry. The roasted Anaheims can be chopped up and used as a topping on your favorite foods, or as an ingredient in a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes.