There’s something about Hatch Chiles that always sends us into a feverish frenzy every time its season comes around. Unknown outside its home region back in the day, the Hatch chile has developed into a cult classic throughout Southern California today. Now known as one of the finest chiles in the world, the Hatch chiles are sure to take up the area by a storm this year and for many years to come. But what exactly is a Hatch chile and why are people so addicted to this particular variety of New Mexico peppers?
To better understand the Hatch chiles, we must first understand where they come from. This variety originates from a tiny town in the Mesilla Valley in Hatch, New Mexico. The region boasts intense sunlight by day and a still coolness by night, resulting in a uniquely flavored chile. Maybe it’s in the air. Maybe it’s in the soil. Either way, we all know it produces a pepper unrivaled by many and loved by all chile pepper lovers and foodies alike.
Contrary to popular belief, Hatch chiles are not only a chile variety but actually describe the different variety of chile peppers grown in that particular area. The flavor of Hatch chiles simply rival no other–peppery with a bright citrus finish with variations in spiciness from mild to medium hot. Read on make the most out of these prized peppers this season.
What to look for: Hatch chiles are only available during August and September. The chile should be long, symmetrical and curved with a thick, smooth and meaty green skin. Look for peppers that have a vibrant, glossy skin and are firm to the touch. You’ll want to choose peppers that boast a thick skin rather than thin so that they can stand up against the heat. Also, try to pick the peppers that are somewhat flat, so that they are easier to roast in the oven.
Of course, there are plenty of Hatch Chile roasting events during the season, which means that you may already be able to find chiles that are already roasted and ready to eat. Stay tuned for a complete list of our roasting events later on this week.
Storage and prep: Hatch chiles can be used in a variety of dishes but taste best when roasted. Roasting them, as with most vegetables, draws out their intense flavor and makes peeling their skins easier. Simply puncture the chiles first and then place them on a high heated grill until lightly charred on both sides. Run under cool water and peel the skin. Now you’re ready to eat them fresh or use them in your favorite summer recipes.
If you wish to store these treasures for the rest of the year and enjoy them later on, they can be kept in the freezer. Hatch chile peppers keep in the freezer for longer with the skin on to prevent bacteria. You may bring them home after a roasting event or roast them yourself before freezer. Just make sure to freeze them within a day.
Uses and recipes: Where to even begin? Hatch chiles are a fantastic ingredient in a many number of dishes. From soups to sauces to much more, these are truly at the peak of freshness. There is no other chile on this planet that tastes like the Hatch chile. Get your bulk of chile peppers roasted at a number of chile roasters and bring them home to be separated and frozen to be used in different recipes. Or simply roast them yourself if you want to buy them at a smaller quantity. Here are a few Hatch Chile recipes that we’ve cooked up:
Shrimp Hatch Chile Jalapeno Popppers – A popular appetizer to snack on, this isn’t your average jalapeno popper. Fully loaded with shrimp and cheddar cheese, these jalapenos get a little extra heat from the Hatch chiles. Pepper and cheese lovers will gather near these tasty small bites, which are perfect for summer outdoor BBQs or even dinner parties.
Hatch Chile Grilled Quesadilla – Quick, can you name anything at the top of your head that’s better than a Hatch Chile quesadilla? Yeah, us either. Tossing it onto the grill gives it that extra crisp and coupled with melted cheese and roasted Hatch chiles makes this a triple threat recipe.
Hatch Chile Farro Rissoto – A healthy and tasty alternative to your typical risotto. If you’ve never tried farro before, this Mediterranean grain gives off a deliciously nutty flavor to the spiciness of the Hatch Chiles and savoriness of the mushrooms in this dish.
Hatch Chile and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – It turns out Hatch Chiles make fabulous ingredients in dessert as well. While the idea may take some getting used to, the cool and creamy vanilla ice cream infused with that special spicy Hatch Chile kick is a truly creative way to use these pretty poppers.
Are you pumped for Hatch Chile season? Have you tried Hatch Chiles before? What do you look forward to most about Hatch Chile season? Let us know in the comments what you plan to do with Hatch chiles!
Find more delicious Hatch Chile recipes in our book Hatch Chile Cookbook, by Sharon Hernandez and Chef Ida Rodriguez.