How and Why You Should Roast Hatch Chiles

Hatch Chiles

He Said:

Had enough summer yet?

Yeah, me too. But I’m thinking of fall this week with the arrival at Whole Foods of this year’s harvest of Hatch Chiles. Hatch is a town in New Mexico, and the eponymous chiles are a subset of the green chiles which are a foundation of New Mexican cuisine. For more about them, Whole Foods offers some excellent exposition here.

We spent some time a couple of Octobers ago in Santa Fe and Taos, perhaps the most underrated foodie destination in America, and these things bring it all back. If Poblano Peppers are Jay Cutler, Hatch Chiles are Drew Brees. If Anaheim Peppers are Reggie Bush, Hatch Chiles are Darren Sproles. See where I’m going with this?

Anyhow, you can get them right now at Whole Foods for $.99 per pound, cheap enough that my massive hoard of peppers drew some funny looks when I threw them and nothing else on the checkout today. You can also buy them roasted, but you absolutely should not.

I think we might need more chiles

One of the best things you can do with food is to roast your own peppers. It is quick, ridiculously simple, and you get the added bonus of filling your house with, in this case, the aromas of Santa Fe in Autumn. A quick primer for anyone who is used to buying this stuff in jars (and this works just the same of course for red peppers, Poblanos, etc):

All you need do is char the skin of the pepper. You can do this on a grill, in your broiler, or even with a pair of tongs over a gas flame on your stovetop. Our preferred method is via the toaster oven. In any case, set the oven on broil and the whole process should take 10 or 12 minutes. Turn the peppers as the tops blister and char until they’re done on all sides, then remove.

Your house will smell like El Dorado at this point

And here’s the secret. Immediately seal them in a zip lock bag and allow to cool. You can even put them in the fridge or freezer if you need to speed the process. Cooling in the bag will make the charred outer skin pull away from the pepper, making them a breeze to peel.

The finished product

And that’s all there is to it. So what can you do with these puppies? Pretty much put them in everything. They’ve got an amazing rich flavor with a bit more heat than a Poblano and considerably less than a Jalapeno. Some suggestions:

  • Throw them in an omelet with some Asiago cheese.
  • We stuffed whole roasted chiles with roasted red pepper, green onion, and mascarpone cheese. Let this set up in the fridge and you have a perfect cold first course.
  • Combine chopped and roasted chiles with roasted tomatillos and/or tomatoes, add chicken, onion, etc, and you have a green chili stew.
  • Use them in tortilla soup, of course, or salsa

As far as I know, there’s no place in town cooking any version of Southwestern cuisine, but I am hoping someone will integrate these into some specials while they’re in season. But take this opportunity to grab some for yourself and see if you find them as addictive as I do. You’ll know you’re hooked if you start Googling flights to Santa Fe.

Santa Fe in October, 2009

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8 responses to “How and Why You Should Roast Hatch Chiles

  1. You have learned well young (old!) Jedi…..

  2. Yeah, you right! I just got my hands on some of the season’s last shipment of Hatches at H-E-B here in Houston…fixing to roast them up now!

  3. I was hoping to learn why one must roast these chiles? Can they not be used without. Don’t get me wrong – I love roasted peppers. Just wondering if they must be roasted. Thanks.

    • hesaidshesaidnola

      Sorry we left out that info. You absolutely can use them without roasting. Dice them as you would any other pepper and saute them in omelettes, or use them as part of the base for any other dish. And regulate the heat by adding or leaving out the seeds and pith.

  4. What’s the importance of peeling the skins off after roasting? I roasted some yesterday and forgot to peel the skins off. My chile verde came out fantastic.

  5. hesaidshesaidnola

    We find that the roasted skins can be bitter, and the general consensus seems to be to remove them. But if leaving them on works for you, we don’t see why it would do any harm.

  6. hesaidshesaidnola

    Reblogged this on He Said/She Said NOLA and commented:

    He and She Said: We posted this last August as we celebrated the annual arrival of Hatch Chiles. They are like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, but much tastier. It’s been getting hits like crazy via Google searches over the past week, so we thought we’d make it easier for those newly infected with the Hatch virus and just reblog it.

  7. The author is absolutely right about not getting the peppers roasted by big roaster. Last year, I seeded and cut the peppers myself, broiled them both sides, let them cool, peeled them and froze them – they were absolutely perfect, the right size and a beautiful texture. It took me a good 7 hours, though (I got the bushel size or whatever the burlap bag is – maybe 40 lbs?

    So this year, I thought, how about let’s try the big outdoor roaster where we buy the peppers. It was $14 extra, but I thought it’s probably worth it.

    Boy, was I wrong! The outdoor professional roasters are so hot, that the peppers turned to mush. They kept cooking all the way home in the back of the truck. We put them down on the kitchen counter, and the next thing you know, we heard a huge pop – the bag had split open and the kitchen floor was pepper juice! No disaster, but it was a sign.

    I let the peppers cool enough to handle them, and got a rude awakening – the total integrity of the structure of the pepper was gone! No neat slices broiled to perfection. Each pepper looked burst apart. They were total mush!
    I still had to scrape off the skin and cut the side with the stem. It was difficult because in 1 out of 3 instances, you could not separate the skin from the flesh. Everything was soup.

    I perservered and have cut and frozen most of them (I still have a potful left to do) but I swear I will never cut corners on these peppers. Maybe other people really like their peppers mushy, but not me! Broiled, firm and then you can cook them to tender in a soup or on an entree. Big lesson learned!

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