I was trolling through the market last week, when a big display of Hatch chiles caught my eye. Of course, I greedily filled a bag with these spicy puppies, which are only in season for about month.
If you’ve ever found yourself in New Mexico, gobbling that state’s signature green sauce, you’ve eaten Hatch chiles.
The green chiles come from the dinky town of Hatch, N.M., and are a key ingredient in the area’s cuisine. The Hatch is prized for its meaty texture and subtle heat. It grows to about 6 inches and looks just like its descendant, the California Anaheim, but boasts much more complex flavor. Hatch chiles are a seasonal bargain–about $2 a pound, which is a whole lot of flavor for very little cash.
But here’s the thing about the Hatch: It has a fleeting season, harvested from late-July to (maybe) early-September, which contributes to its mystique. If you don’t stock up now, you’ll have to wait until next year’s harvest. All over New Mexico and the Southwest, people will buy 10, 20, 30 pounds or more and have them roasted. Then they freeze the chiles to use throughout the year.
“Although the roastings are most popular in all of the Southwest, there will be Hatch chile roastings through the U.S., including the Midwest, East Coast, and West Coast,” says Robert Schueller, of the produce distribution company Melissa’s.The company is on a bit of a mission to spread the Hatch love across America.
You can roast them yourself, too. Just arrange whole chiles on a foil-lined pan and broil for 15 minutes or until the skins are blackened (don’t forget to turn them halfway through). Toss ’em in a paper bag and seal; let them stand for 15 minutes so the steam can loosen their skins. Cool to room temperature, and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. You can thaw and peel the chiles as you need them. They’d be a great addition to Kurt’s Iowa City Chili.
The folks at Melissa’s even like to add Hatch chiles to chocolate chip cookies. If you’re feeling adventuresome, substitute a couple of chopped roasted chilies for candied bacon in our Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Bacon.
You just know I’m going try that…