Don’t worry! You’re not too late, Hatch Chile season typically begins in late August/beginning of September and lasts until mid-October so you’re hitting it at its peak! Although, a touch of capsaicin adds just the zing I prefer in most dishes, I guess I’m not a true chile-head, because I wasn’t familiar with the short-season, infamous Anaheim-like peppers from New Mexico. That’s what distinguishes a Hatch chile – they hail from the Hatch Valley in New Mexico and their arrival is celebrated each year during the Hatch Valley Chile Festival. This year’s two-day festival attracted some 30,000 chile-heads, foodies, and celeb culinary entertainment from Food Network and BBC to pay tribute to Hatch’s most famous crop, sample famed chile recipes, watch the crowning of the chile festival queen, participate in chile ristra contests, and be a kid at the carnival.
For the past two weeks I’ve been a kid at my own chile festival as I played with nearly a bushel of the long green babies that Melissa’s Produce sent me. Some hot, some mild, my family and some of their lucky friends got a taste of hatch chiles in hash browns, salsas, sauces, stuffed, layered, and rolled. I think I’m officially addicted to them! But it’s a healthy addiction to have since Hatch Chiles have zero fat, cholesterol, and sodium with practically no calories, and are high in fiber and vitamins A and C! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ingredient to get the creative juices flowing for my work in low sodium, heart healthy recipe development, thank you, Melissa’s.
Hatch chiles vary from mild, to medium, to hot, to extra hot and are best grilled over an open flame (or roasted) and peeled before they are used as an ingredient in sauces, salsas, marinades, stews, burritos, chiles rellenos, bread, etc. Today, I’m sharing a simple, mild Hatch Chile sauce, served two ways: creamy and “straight”, with chicken enchiladas. The creamy version, similar in flavor to a creamy poblano sauce, adds a cool balance to the piquant, smoky, mildly spicy note of the vibrant green “straight” sauce - served over your favorite enchiladas it’s a flavor bomb!
Enchiladas with Hatch Chile Sauce
Recipe by Priscilla Willis Yield: 4 servings
1 pound cooked chicken breast* ( about 1 whole or 2 half breasts)
8-10 corn tortillas (I used Mission white corn tortillas)
8 grilled or roasted hatch chiles, peeled
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. container light sour cream, divided use
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Olive or canola oil
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Garnish: diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, and fresh cilantro
*Note: You can use leftover roasted chicken, rotisserie chicken or other purchased cooked chicken. I cook the chicken in foil packets in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes – I think this gives you moister chicken than if you cook it on the stove. Cut the chicken breast into strips, sprinkle with seasoning – I use Mrs. Dash’s Garlic and Herb because it has no sodium. Place the chicken in the middle of the aluminum foil and fold the edges together to make a packet. Reserve the juices to add to the shredded/chopped chicken.
1. Grill the hatch chiles until skin is charred. Remove from heat and place in a paper or plastic bag to steam – this makes it easier to remove the skin. Allow to cool, remove skin, stem, seeds, and membrane.
2. Cook onions over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes to soften, add garlic and cook for another minute. Place chiles, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Makes about 1-¾ cups of sauce. Cover and refrigerate or, if using immediately, pour 1 cup of the mixture into a sauce pan to make the creamy hatch chile sauce, reserving the remainder to serve as a salsa alongside. Warm sauce over low heat and add half (8 ounces) of the sour cream to the chile mixture.
3. Quickly fry the tortillas one at a time in the oil. Add a spoonful of shredded/chopped chicken breast in the middle, sprinkle with a bit of shredded cheese and a dollop of either the creamy or “straight” sauce if desired, roll up, and place in a baking dish (seam side down).
Preheat oven to Broil.
4. To plate: place spoonful of the creamy hatch chile on the plate, spread with the spoon back, place two enchiladas on top, sprinkle with cheese, place under broiler for 1 minute or so to melt the cheese. Drizzle with sour cream. Garnish with tomatoes, green onion, and cilantro. Serve with additional hatch chile sauce on the side. Shown served with no cheese on top for a lower-calorie, heart healthy alternative – the little bit of cheese and sauce inside the enchilada with the garnishes and scoop of salsa = big flavor!