Hooray! It’s time to Hatch!
Chileheads can celebrate the arrival of the annual crop of Hatch chiles this week. Look for several local festivals and special Hatch-themed menu items to get underway the next few days.
Touted as the chile capital of the world, Hatch is located in southern New Mexico, less than an hour from Las Cruces. The village’s late-summer harvests lead to Hatch chile festivals across the country, when everything from pork shoulder to ice cream can be found infused with the palatable, not-too-piquant pepper.
While the season is short, carrying over into September if we’re lucky, the chiles freeze well when roasted, and many home cooks designate August as Hatch chile roasting-and-storing month.
Stock up now on the popular pod, long and skinny with varying levels of heat, and use these recipes and roasting tips from local chefs to celebrate the Hatch for weeks to come.
Chop House Burgers
Kenny Mills, chef and owner
Kenny Mills likes to build a mesquite wood fire when it’s time to roast Hatch chiles. He says he prefers the wood’s flavor above other varieties, plus it burns hotter.
“You get a quick blister on the outside,” he says. “It makes it easy to prepare the peppers.”
Once he’s blistered, peeled and sliced them, Mills stores the roasted chiles in plastic quart containers, convenient for removing individual portions when needed. Store them for the long haul in freezer bags, he says, or dice the chiles and freeze them in ice cube trays. He also throws the chile cubes in freezer bags for ready-made portions to stir into soups, sauces or New Mexico-style enchiladas — the last of which he makes a version of here via a Hatch chile enchilada burger topped with an over-easy egg.
Oliver’s Fine Foods
Todd Bush, chef and owner
Gourmet grocery and deli Oliver’s Fine Foods boasts more than 150 recipes for seasonal and specialty sausages, all of which are made in-house and offered throughout the year. Owner Todd Bush’s biggest tip for sausage-making: “Everything has to be cold. Even the equipment needs to be chilled.”
Patrons will find Bush’s Hatch chile sausage available in the store this month. And you might get inspired and break out the KitchenAid sausage grinding and stuffing attachments to make your own, using his recipe. Grill the finished sausage or boil with onions, jalapeños and chipotle peppers in a South American or Texas beer, Bush says.
Regarding the roasting process, Bush throws them atop gas burners until they’re black on all sides, then peels them when they’ve cooled.
Central Market’s 19th annual Hatch Chile Festival kicks off Aug. 6. This year’s fiery festivities include a Revolver Brewing launch event on the patio of the Fort Worth store 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday; the local brewery will release its new High Brass beer, which will be poured along with other Revolver favorites while the Central Market food truck sells Hatch-infused items.
Stop by the Growler Bar inside the Fort Worth store’s beer and wine department during the first week of the festival to sample pepper-infused beers.
Among the lineup of classes will be one taught by chef Marcus Paslay of Clay Pigeon Food & Drink, who prepares Hatch chile crab cakes and a chocolate ganache Hatch chile tart at the Fort worth store Aug. 14 ($65, 6:30-9 p.m.). In Southlake, a Tequila and Hatch Chile Fusion class Aug. 16 ($55, 4-6:30 p.m.) will focus on recipes for Hatch chile-spiked shrimp cocktail, tequila-lime-marinated chicken, papas rellenas and tequila Key lime pie.
Visit all Central Market stores through Aug. 19 to load up on the piquant New Mexico chiles, which can be roasted on-site, as well as Hatch chile-infused products like queso, pasta sauce, tortillas and cookies. Here is a recipe for a Hatch-spiked chocolate Key lime pie that came out tops in a Central Market Hatch chile recipe contest a few years ago.