Cowgirl Chef: Use Hatch chiles in muffins, potatoes and more

Posted Thursday, Aug. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Hatch chile cooking classes Central Market’s spicy Hatch Chile festivities include cooking classes with Cowgirl Chef Ellise Pierce. “Hatch Chiles With a French Accent” will showcase the flavors of the current crop with a menu of Hatch chile cheese puffs, cool gazpacho, galettes with shrimp and salsa, and fig and green chile tartlets. (At the Fort Worth store, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and at the Southlake store, 4 p.m. Sunday.) $60; more information and registration at Also, visit Central Market through Aug. 20 to load up on the piquant New Mexico chiles and pick up your own Hatch chile storage bag, preprinted with freezing and storage instructions.
Green chile-goat cheese smashed potatoes Makes 4 servings 1 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes • Sea salt 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons cream 3 1/2 ounces goat cheese 4 1/2 ounces roasted and chopped Hatch green chiles • Pepper 1. Put potatoes into a big pot along with a big pinch of sea salt, and cover them with water by 4 inches. Put the lid on, and turn the heat to high. When the pot boils, reduce the heat to low, and cook 10 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are ready by puncturing them with a fork — the potatoes should be soft, but not mushy. If they’re ready, take them off the heat and drain them. If not, give them a few more minutes, and keep testing until they’re done. 2. After you’ve drained the water off of the potatoes, add the butter, and give it a stir with a big wooden spoon. Now, with the hand potato masher (or just the wooden spoon), mash the potatoes, so some of them are smashed and others are still in pieces — we’re not going for a smooth puree. 3. Stir in the cream, then gently fold in the goat cheese and green chiles — so the goat cheese will be in bits throughout rather than completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm. Nutritional analysis per serving: 359 calories, 20 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 389 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 50 percent of calories from fat. — From “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent”
Green chile-cheddar muffins Makes 36 mini muffins 1/3 cup bacon drippings or butter 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 cup grated cheddar cheese 1/2 cup roasted, chopped green chile 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup milk 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and divide the bacon drippings or butter among the mini muffin molds. 2. Whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. 3. In another bowl, mix the cheese and green chiles. Go ahead and slide muffin tins into the oven. 4. Beat the eggs with the milk, pour this over the dry ingredients, and mix well. Fold in the cheese and green chile. Pull the muffin tins out of the oven, pour the melted bacon grease or butter into the batter and give it a quick stir. Spoon the batter into the muffin molds and bake for 30 minutes or until the edges brown. Serve right away. Nutritional analysis per mini muffin: 55 calories, 3 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 121 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 53 percent of calories from fat.
Green chile-roasted corn salsa Makes about 2 cups This easy summer salsa is great on its own as a side for grilled foods, on top of chicken, or with grilled shrimp mixed in. It’s also wonderful with tortilla chips. 1 cup roasted corn kernels (1 cob) 1/2 cup roasted and chopped green chile 2 green onions, chopped 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon canola oil Juice of half a lime Sea salt and pepper Toss everything in a bowl; taste for seasonings. Let rest for a half-hour or so before serving. Nutritional analysis per 2-tablespoon serving: 25 calories, 1 gram fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 36 percent of calories from fat.
Green chile pesto I love this pesto because you can do almost anything with it — spread it on toast, the bottom of tarts, or pizzas, or toss it into pasta — and you can dial the heat up or down depending on whether you use a mild or hot chile. Makes about 1 1/2 cups 3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated 1 cup roasted and chopped green chiles 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil Sea salt and pepper Put everything in a small food processor and whir until it’s a chunky, delicious pesto. Nutritional analysis per 2-tablespoon serving: 47 calories, 3 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 97 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 63 percent of calories from fat.

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It has probably been 20 years since I first tasted New Mexico green chiles, poured like gravy all over my breakfast burrito at Cafe Pasqual’s. I immediately loved the slightly grassy, earthy flavor, and the lower heat profile meant that I could eat more of it — whether tossed by the handful on top of a pizza, sandwiched inside a cheeseburger, or simply on its own, roasted, chopped and scooped up, tortilla chip after tortilla chip.

Not something you’d do with the jalapeño, the chile of all things Tex-Mex.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to drive through Hatch, N.M., and seen the acres of green chile fields on either side of the road, then you know that chiles are a very big deal here — and the state is as divided (and competitive) as Fort Worth and Dallas. Some people will only eat chiles from the north, and others, just from the south, in Hatch.

But there’s no such thing as a Hatch chile.

“I think the biggest misconception is people think Hatch is a variety,” says Danise Coon, researcher with The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. “There are lots of varieties that are grown in Hatch, all with different heat levels, thickness and length.”

Chiles from Hatch are all derived from what’s known as the New Mexico pod type, according to Coon. The hybrid chile that was developed at the turn of the century by chile pioneer Fabian Garcia, who crossed a pasilla chile with a couple of New Mexican native chiles. That chile, New Mexico No. 9, is the original Hatch chile — or chile from Hatch. All others are derived from that chile, including the Anaheim (so-called because of where it was first grown), a much milder-flavored chile due to the high water content.

In Hatch, chiles, like the climate, are drier and have a more concentrated flavor. And there are many varieties. Thick-skinned chiles get to remain green, while the thinner-skinned ones are best for red. Some are on the mild side, with a tiny bit of heat, while others are on the fiery side. Most are less than 1,000 Scoville units (the standard measurement of chile hotness), whereas a jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 8,000.

Which makes Hatch chiles — rather, chiles from Hatch — more versatile than jalapeños. A little bit of heat can give a dish brightness, or add complexity to something unexpected, like a chocolate bar with chile (which if you’ve not tried, you must).

In Paris, I always kept a stash of green chile in my cabinets in tiny 4.5-ounce cans. Now I buy roasted green chiles in 3-pound bags, and go through at least one, sometimes more, each month.

For the Fourth of July this year, I ate green chile cheeseburgers at a cookout, and my hostess also served a bowl of hot green chiles on the side, should anyone need more (I did). A friend of mine is famous for his green chile-apple pie at Thanksgiving.

Chiles are so much a part of New Mexico culture that there’s even a state question — “Red or green?” — meaning, do you want that breakfast burrito with red chile sauce or roasted green chile sauce? Because it’s got to be one or the other — or both. Just say, “Christmas.”

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent” (Running Press, $25).; @cowgirlchef.

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