Did you ever hear that odd saying – “It’s Chile today and hot tamale?” I know – corny, right? I just had to say it! Sorry. Don’t hate.
One of my favorite times of year is happening right now. It’s too early to be Christmas, too early for Mardi Gras, not my birthday, hummm -must be Hatch Chile season! Yes, that’s right! Hatch Chile season is one of my favorite times of year. Why? Because they are just that good and only available for a short time. Although more and more groceries are starting to jump on the Hatch band wagon, it wasn’t always like that. Whole Foods use to be the only place I could get them this time of year. Now, many local grocers are stocking up. I’m sure Whole Foods will crank up the big chile roaster in the parking lot this weekend, if for no other reason, go and take a whiff. The smell is intoxicating.
Typically I will go to Whole Foods and buy a huge box of beautiful glossy green peppers and spend a weekend roasting them on my grill. Then, make a batch of green salsa, some Hatch green chili, and then use them in an enchilada sauce. By the way, I will make enough for the freezer, that way I can celebrate Hatch Chile season all year. Lucky me!
If you haven’t tried a Hatch Chile… you must! I tell you, you must! Go! Now! Before it’s too late!
I was first introduced to green chiles 12 years ago. You see, the G-man and I eloped to Santa Fe, New Mexico and got married in the most beautiful old court building in the middle of town. After the ceremony we walked over to a restaurant called Coyote Cafe to grab a bite. I don’t remember what we ordered but the waiter asked,” Red or green?” We must have looked stumped so he backed the question up with, ” Chile sauce, red or green?” I chose green and was hooked ever since. No matter what you order or what restaurant you eat at in New Mexico they always asked, “Red or green?”
Hatch chiles, are a little spicy, but not an uncomfortable heat. In a pinch, you can now find canned Hatch chiles in the Mexican section of your grocery. And they will work just fine in most recipes, but fresh= tastier.
To me, cooking is only fun when you feel free to improvise. So I’ll let you in on a little secret. This year when I made my Green Chile, I didn’t feel like roasting the peppers (I was pressed for time and a bit too stressed to bother), and I didn’t feel like going the whole route with the fresh tomatillos, so I improvised. I didn’t roast the chiles, instead, I just roughly chopped them and sautéed. I’m not going to lie, the membrane around the flesh did kind of separate, but it wasn’t so bad that I would say not do it in a pinch. And I used a jar of Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa Verde (good stuff), the main ingredient is tomatillos, so I figure it would be a great replacement. Sure enough it was.
CHEFS SIDEBAR: It’s always a good idea to wear rubber gloves when fooling with chiles! Washing your hands a hundred times does NOT remove chile oil from your pours… I’ve learned that the hard and painful way!
Chile residue + eyes = pain! Chile residue + eyes + contacts = excruciating pain!