29 August 2011

It's Hatchin' Time

It's that time of year again. From late August into October, the town of Hatch, New Mexico is a hotbed of activity. Get it, "hot"bed?
The elevation, temperature, and soil combine to create the perfect atmosphere for the green fingers of goodness that are Hatch Green Chiles. My husband's favorite restaurant sends employees to New Mexico to hand-select peppers for the many dishes of their Green Chile Festival.

My local grocery store, Central Market has an annual festival and offers fresh or roasted peppers along with dozens of different food items and recipes that all contain Hatch heat.

If you are interested in jumping on the chile wagon, here are some helpful hints. Peppers are best roasted. Period. I'm sure they also could be boiled or baked or fried. But they're best roasted, and it's super easy. Grip the stem with tongs (or your fingers if you have chef's hands) and rotate over an open flame for about five minutes until black and charred. Tada. Wasn't that easy? Now here's the supersecret part that makes you look like a genius...immediately seal them in a ziploc bag and let sit for several minutes. All that charred skin is gonna flake right off and leave you with gorgeous roasted peeled peppers.

Dice one up right away and add it to the next thing you cook. Freeze the rest whole. They last longer. Unless you can't take the heat. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. The heat intensifies if you leave them whole, and they last longer whole than diced. So if your ancestors did not grow up on pork chops, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and sweet tea...remove the seeds and membranes before you freeze. And on more thing. Please don't inhale while roasting chiles. You will cough up a storm. Use the vent, and turn your head to breathe, just like you're swimming.

Without further rambling, here are some the ways I intend to use my green chiles.

Cucumber and Hatch Chile Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Hatch Green Chile Rice

Hatch Chile Veracruz Sauce