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It's Time to Hatch!

It's Hatch chile time!! That brief blip on the food radar which is Hatch chile season. Get 'em while you can. Then roast 'em and store 'em up.

Several fresh chilies

I must confess that although I knew of Hatch chiles, I did not realize how short their season is (August - September, if you're lucky) nor how big a deal they are in the area they are grown. My friend, who hails from El Paso, Texas, enlightened me with stories of giant drums of chilies fire roasted all over town, of the scent that fills the air, of Hatch chile everything (from ice cream to burger topping), of festivals and hoopla. Last year she took me to Trader Joe's during Hatch season so I could buy some chilies and roast them at home.

Oh boy. Now I get it. Those chilies are special. There's a smoky, sweetness to them layered in there with the heat. A fruitiness. I love it.

Flash forward to 2021 -- it's Hatch chile season again. We bought our chilies last weekend and I had to grin as she sniffed her bag of fresh chilies, remembering her hometown. So now I am going to tell you how easy it is to have roasted Hatch chilies available to you beyond the season.

Buy them, wash them, roast them, peel them, chop them, freeze them.

  • Buy them! Look for smooth, tight skins. The less curly ones are easier to peel.

  • Wash them! And then dry them off.

  • Roast them! Line a baking sheet with foil and lay the whole chilies on the tray. Set your oven to broil. Place the tray in your oven about 6 inches from the heat. Let them go about 5 or 6 minutes (you want much of the skin to blacken and blister). Use tongs to flip them over and broil the other side the same way.

  • Peel them! Place the peppers in a large paper bag or a covered heatproof dish and let them sit at least 15 minutes. The steam will loosen the skins. Then remove them one at a time, keeping the remainder covered. I cut the top off, then slide my thumb under the skin to get it started and just slip it off. Any stubborn bits I get with my knife.

  • Chop them! I make a slit down the length of the chile, open it flat on my cutting board, and remove the seeds and membranes with a spoon. If you like the heat you can leave them in. I find my family gets enough heat without the seeds and the fruitiness is much more evident. That accomplished, I stack the peppers and chop them up in small dice.

  • Freeze them! My preferred method is to pack the chopped peppers into ice cube trays, freeze them for a day, then pop the frozen chile cubes into a freezer bag. That way I can grab a pre-portioned amount whenever I want.

There you have it. You can thank me later, as you pop them into cornbread or omelets. As you throw some in with your roasted potatoes and onions. As you top your burger with them. Be sure to leave me a comment telling me your favorite way to use them!


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