This is it friends! This is what I wait for allllll year! Growing up in Texas, the daughter of two New Mexico parents, this is home to me. True nostalgia. I remember actually NOT enjoying them as a kid, because honestly, what kid would? But as I grew older and expanded my palate, I really started to grow a huge appreciation for these.
I lived in Austin, Texas for a number of years. Every September they host an annual Hatch Green Chile festival and restaurants around the town serve these babies up in the most imaginative and delicious ways. Not only that, but you can buy pounds and pounds of them fresh for your own cooking. So imagine my surprise when I found them here, all the way up in good ol’ Pittsburgh! At first I could only find them frozen, but over the past few years we started seeing them coming in fresh. Gotta love the foodie trend!
So now I am that crazy person who goes from store to store and waits and watches for green chile season. And when they finally show up, I proceed to buy them by the pound(s). I am not going to tell you how many… just know I do my due part in making sure they come back every year!
What do I do with them? Mostly, I roast and freeze! This way I can pull them out throughout the year and whip up a sauce in a moment’s notice. The chiles tend to be mild in flavor but still can carry quite a bit of heat with them. The level of spice in a pepper has to do with how hot the growing season was that year, as well as if they were planted nearby other hot peppers. This can explain the variability from batch to batch. Some years they are sweet and mild, others they are burn-your-face-off spicy!
They make a fantastic sauce, and roasting them brings out the sweetness. It’s a beautiful compliment to meats of course, but goes well with vegetarian fare as well. It tends to be a heavier flavor, so it’s perfect fall and winter food for me. In the summer, grilling and roasting and then serving chopped up with some potatoes or corn is an acceptable alternative. You could stuff them, but personally I never make it that far! And of course, eat them raw if that’s your thing. I mean, really, you can’t go wrong here.
In New Mexico, there is a traditional stew called Posole that highlights local hominy and green chiles with a nourishing chicken or pork based broth. Vegetarians swap out the meat and throw in more hominy or “beef” it up with extra beans, onions, or tomatoes. Posole is our traditional New Year’s Day feast for good luck and no new year is complete without them!
But my most coveted use of hatch chiles is of course, my sauce. Inspired by my mother, who truly taught me to fully appreciate green chiles in all their glory. (Thanks, Mom!) And my dad, who ladles this sauce by the heaping spoonful over everything from eggs, to mashed potatoes, to Thanksgiving turkey and more. (Thanks, Dad!) So today, I am going to teach you how to make this sauce too.
The first thing you want to do is start with roasting your fresh green chiles. After you wash and dry them, turn your oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the chiles out. Place in the preheated oven and allow to roast for around 10 minutes. You’ll start to smell their sweetness! Open the oven and use tongs to flip them over, and place them back in there to keep on roasting. Do this as often as needed to fully crisp and brown your chiles on all sides.
Once they are golden and roasted, transfer immediately to a paper bag, fold over, and allow the steam to do it’s magic. This will loosen the peels that you just roasted. Once cooled, grab some gloves and start slipping the peels from the chiles. Remove the stems and the seeds, (seeds = bitterness, by the way… not heat), and place in a container.
Set aside a few to enjoy like this amazing breakfast…
And the rest? Time to make some sauce! Dice or chop one or two yellow onions and sauté in a pot with avocado oil over medium heat. The chiles provide their own sweetness, and the onion will lend itself to this as well. So the more onion you use, the more sweetness you taste. Otherwise, there is no real hard and fast rule for amounts or measures here. Intuitive and personal cooking at it’s finest!
When the onion becomes fragrant and translucent, chop and add the chiles. Add a cup or so of broth, and allow to cook on medium low for ten minutes or so. A thick sauce should form. At this point, finely dice or mince fresh garlic. Add to the sauce, along with sea salt to taste. Using an immersion blender, puree the ingredients.
Now is the time to taste test, and if it meets your needs, you can remove from the heat of the stove and allow to cool before storing in the fridge. If you need more flavor, consider more garlic and salt. More heat? Add jalapeños!
Once you are happy with the results, enjoy liberally! Mashed potatoes, eggs, turkey, chicken, pork, beans, corn, soups and stews, frittata, wild game… catch my drift? Now you are armed with an enviable sauce that is a well loved tradition in the Southwest. I hope you learn to love green chiles just like a true New Mexican! Or at least a passing visitor!