It’s one of my favorite times of year! Hatch Chile season is upon us and that means its time to celebrate one of the most wonderful peppers in existence – the New Mexico Hatch Chile. It’s a short season August and September only, so take advantage while you can!
Hatch chiles hail from the small town of Hatch, New Mexico. They are, in fact, genetically identical to the Anaheim Pepper which is easily found in Southern California – and nationwide – and is a staple of Mexican cuisine. The difference is this: The pepper plants grown in Hatch, NM have to work a lot harder to survive – let alone produce peppers – in the rocky, arid climate of Southern New Mexico.
Anaheim peppers have it really easy: perfect climate, perfect temperatures, long growing season. It’s the opposite with Hatch chiles. The result? These peppers are much more flavorful and much spicier. Roasted over earthy mesquite and added to just about anything, their flavor is unique and enticing, even haunting. And the smell of roasting Hatch chilles is like nothing else in the world.
My recommendation to you is to head to your local grocery store and pick up somewhere in the range of 10-15lbs of Hatch chiles and spend a leisurely after afternoon roasting your chiles. Store them in the freezer between layers of wax paper, and they’ll last you about a year – just in time for next season! Then make something delicious.
Roasting Hatch chiles is super easy. Simply get your grill really hot, add a bit of mesquite wood or wood chips (if you’re using gas, see this post on how to smoke stuff in your gas grill. Grill your chiles until they blister but are not burned – you’re looking to char the skin only, not the flesh.
Once you’ve got your chiles nicely charred, transfer them to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let them steam in the residual heat for 25 minutes. Then, under cool running water, peel them and de-seed them (use gloves here). Store them between layers of wax paper in the freezer in a plastic bag for up to a year.
They really are special when fresh, so take some time this season to make some recipes that utilize them, such as Green Chile Bacon Cheeseburgers or New Mexico Style Chicken Chili Verde.