In case you live in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest where it rarely breaches the 80 degree mark, it’s a billion degrees outside for the rest of us. What do you eat when it’s a billion degrees outside? Chiles!!! (Ever heard of Gustatory Facial Sweating? You will, just keep reading.) Hatch Chile season is only about six weeks long, so you have to get them while you can. With this post, you’re not only going to learn How to Roast Chiles, but I’m going to save you some money, too.
Chiles or Chilies
First off, why is it chiles and not chilies? According to the The Times Stylebook, chili is a thick soup or stew consisting of beef, (or other meat, but don’t ever say that to a Texan) chiles (with an e) and spices whereas chile is both the country (when capitalized) and peppers, more specifically hot peppers. The word “chili” in chili powder is spelled with an “i” because this is a blend of spices intended for use in chili or other Mexican inspired dishes.
Gustatory Facial Sweating
Still wondering why chiles are hot weather food? Consider this: almost every nation closest to the equator include chiles in their cuisines. Jamaica has scotch bonnets and habaneros, Mexico has a plethora including jalapenos and serranos, southeast Asia – the tiny, fiery bird chiles, and of course the legendary ghost chile of India! So why is this so? It comes down to science. The heat from the chiles and spicy food in general, raises our internal temperature to better match the external temperature thus causing our blood circulation to increase and possibly even cause sweating to begin.(Yes, food sweats are real!)
What makes a Hatch chile a “Hatch chile”?
While we have access to many types of chiles year-round, Hatch chiles are unique to the US and grown in one valley in New Mexico. Grocery stores all over the southwest sell “Hatch” chiles during August. I put this in quotes, because some stores even in New Mexico may sell chiles as Hatch chiles even though they are not from the Hatch valley. Just ask the vendor what region of New Mexico they are from. If they can’t answer or say something other than Hatch valley, you can move on or simply buy them knowing you may not get the profound flavor that this valley produces. That said, if you happen to be traveling through New Mexico along Interstate 25 or 10 during this month, you aren’t too far from Hatch. It’s just north of Las Cruces. (I’ve heard it smells like chiles in the Hatch valley) Do this for me, stop at a roadside stand for a burlap bag-full and order anything on any menu in the state that has a roaster sitting outside. Then email me or comment here and tell me how it was. I still haven’t made it to the source to experience a hatch chile burger! Speaking of roadside roasters, here’s where I’m going to save you a ton of money.
How to Roast Hatch Chiles and Save Big Money!
If you live in a place where grocery stores celebrate hatch season by setting a gas-fired roaster outside the stores and lure you to buy the freshly roasted chiles, don’t be tempted. I will fill you in on at little secret…you’re paying them to do the easiest part of the process. Sometimes this can be as much as four times the price of buying the fresh chiles and roasting them yourself. Roasting them is super easy and takes maybe 15 minutes. Peeling and seeding them takes longer, but you have to do that even if they roast them for you. Besides when you consider the fact that you can garner the equivalent to approximately 20 cans of green chiles (about $1 per 4 oz can with marginal flavor) for about $5 or less, this time is a great savings. As with all seasonal eating, time preserving now pays off later. You can be eating a steaming bowl of green chili (yes, with an “i”) in January based on the hour of work you do now. The roasted and peeled chiles freeze very well. You can seed them after thawing if you don’t want to take the time now. Oh, one more tip, watch the signs at your store, there are hot chiles and mild or medium. I haven’t personally noticed a difference between mild and medium, but get a hot one and you will know it.
How to Roast Hatch Chiles and Prepare for Recipes
Before I post the recipe, here’s the process for roasting and prepping chiles. Note: You can buy roasted chiles if you prefer, but they are usually 3-4 times the price of raw chiles.
Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place directly under a hot broiler. (Neglected to get a photo)
Turn them when they are blistered to the other side and broil til that side is blistered.
Peel the chiles after they have cooled to the touch buy simply pulling at a blistered part then removing all the skin.
Remove the stem and top seed pod.
Scrape out remaining seeds with the dull side of a knife or your fingers (wash your hands)
If you are wanting to store the chiles already processed for recipes, you can chop them into a 1/4″ dice like you would find in canned chopped chiles. Otherwise leave them whole so you can use them for stuffed chiles (try to make sure you don’t rip them completely open like I always do by mistake if you want to stuff them, but if you do, just roll the stuffing inside like a burrito).
Ways to Use Chiles
Once the chiles are peeled and seeded, they are ready to use or freeze.
- Make Hatch Chile Salsa. Use this recipe and sub 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped hatch chiles for jalapeno
- Add to soups, stews and casseroles in place of chopped green or red pepper
- Make Chile Verde
- Add to omelets, scrambled eggs or breakfast casseroles
- Leave whole, chop or slice and serve them on a burger
- Add chopped chiles to pimento cheese (a delicious Southern spread if you’ve never had it)
- Stuff them with sausage, cream cheese or rice and beans (or all of the above).
- Make these delicious Paleo Hatch Chile Salmon Cakes.
How to Freeze Hatch Chiles
If you buy hatch chiles in bulk, they are easy to freeze and use all year. I’ve tried many different methods, but I’ve found the easiest is to follow the steps for roasting, peeling and seeding then freezing either whole, sliced or chopped.
- To freeze whole: Lay the peeled and seeded chiles on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer and place in freezer until completely frozen then transfer to a Stasher bag or ziploc bag.
- To freeze sliced: Slice the chiles into thin strips. Lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer close together. Place in freezer until completely frozen then transfer to a Stasher bag or ziploc bag.
- To freeze chopped: Chop the chiles as shown above. Divide amongst silicone muffin cups or ice cube trays (large ones if possible). Freeze until completely solid then transfer to a Stasher bag or ziploc bag.
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