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.
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.
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.
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.