Hatch chiles. All of a sudden they’re everywhere. You know they’re a chile, but are they mild or hot? What’s the best way to prepare them? Unless you live in New Mexico these are questions you might be asking.
Hatch Chile 101:
* Authentic New Mexican Hatch Chiles are a favorite Southwestern chile. They are named after the original growing area in Hatch, New Mexico. Chefs say that the intense sunlight and cool nights in this valley result in a uniquely flavored chile. They’re grown in the Mesilla valley, which stretches along the Rio Grande’s southern-most bend before crossing into Texas and Mexico.
* The season for authentic Hatch Chiles is very short, typically it begins in late August/early September and lasts until mid-October so get them while you can. Stores in Southern California host Hatch Chile roastings where you can buy them by the case already roasted. Check for a store near you. Chile roastings are like a mini Hatch Chile Festival where you’ll meet fellow chile heads swapping recipes and tales of how they came to be a Hatch lover.
*Hatch chiles can range from mild to medium-hot and are most like Anaheim chiles. They’re great in Chile Con Queso, Chile Rellenos, and Chile Verde. But, don’t stop there…try roasting and using them in salads, soups, stews, dips, and sandwiches.
* You can also grill Hatch chiles which is my preferred method to ensure a year-round supply. Grilled or roasted, Hatch chiles can be frozen and will keep for two years. Their flavor and heat intensifies over time.
* When working with Hatch chiles or any other chile, WEAR GLOVES. The oils from chiles transfers to your fingers and does not wash away for quite some time. Do not touch your mouth or eyes after handling them. I’ve suffered the burn when removing my contact lenses hours later…
* To roast or grill: Wash the chiles and pat dry.
Grilling: Place chiles directly on the grill, turn chiles until the skin blisters and becomes slightly charred on all sides.
Oven roasting: Place chiles on a baking sheet in the oven on high-heat broiler setting–about 5 inches from the broiler element. Watch closely as it takes only a few minutes until the skin blisters, turn, and broil until slightly charred on all sides.
Once the skin is evenly charred, place hot roasted chiles in a paper or plastic bag, or a covered bowl and let the chiles steam for 15 minutes to loosen the skin. Skinning and seeding is very easy after this. Freeze the chiles whole, the skin, core and seeds are very easy to remove when defrosted. Resist rinsing so as not to lose any of their great flavor!
Just when I think I’ve cooked Hatch chiles about every way you can, I come up with something new! Like these super easy cucumber Hatch chile hummus boats – a tasty and nutritious snack for grown ups or kids. We washed ours down with a little Tongue Tickler Double IPA from Noble Ale Works. Cool and refreshing!
I also riffed on my Chicken Enchiladas with Hatch Chile Sauce from two years ago. It was better than the first time – probably because it was cooked in my trusty cast iron skillet and adorned with heirloom cherry tomatoes, isn’t summer wonderful?
I also have recipes for Corn Pudding with Hatch Chiles (you’ll love how easy it is to make and its soufflé-like texture), Candied Bacon & Hatch Chile Pancakes (a heavenly sweet & savory combination), Grilled Pineapple and Hatch Chile Salsa, Heirloom Tomato and Grilled Corn Salad with Hatch chiles and now a quick and healthy snack of Cucumber Boats stuffed with Hatch Chile Hummus. If you’ve caught Hatch Chile fever and want more, see my friend Dorothy’s post of 50 Best Hatch Chile Recipes!
Enjoy! And this weekend, why not make it out to a Hatch Chile Roasting and discover your inner chile head!
Upcoming Hatch Chile Roastings in OC
Click on store names for more information.
Sunday, Aug. 24: Huntington Beach and Tustin, Ralphs.
Saturday, Aug. 30: Newport Beach, Bristol Farms.