Hatch Green Chilies? Yes, Please!

T-shirt & photo from CafePress.com

I love peppers. Oh, how I love them. My family and close friends are probably laughing right now, because they know my dirty little secret – I don’t like bell peppers. Don’t judge. I love every other pepper known to man, or at least all the ones I’ve tried. I just don’t like the green bell version. I’m trying to love red and orange bells, so forgive me. Know what I DO love? Chili peppers. Green chilies, jalapenos and poblanos are my favorites. Which is why yesterday was the best grocery shopping experience EVER. It’s Hatch Chili season. Ever heard of it? Hatch green chilies come from the town of Hatch, New Mexico. When they’re plentiful, you can find a bounty of them, even here in Houston. Texans L-O-V-E their peppers, and when it’s chili season, restaurants try every conceivable way to use them. It’s glorious.

A few years ago, our neighborhood HEB store was roasting Hatch chilies on huge charcoal grills right out in front of the store. The smell of roasting peppers washed across the parking lot and drew me in like those cartoons of people drifting with their feet off the ground towards whatever is enchanting them. For me, it’s roasting peppers. Good Lord in Heaven… if they could put that scent into a candle, I’d burn it all day long. If they could bottle it, I’d be smearing it on my wrists and rubbing it behind my ears every morning. It’s my kryptonite.

Fresh Hatch chili peppers are firm and fragrant.

When I cruised through the produce department, they weren’t roasting them dang it. They were putting them out in large cardboard bins with a sign that said “Hatch Green Chilies – 99 cents/pound.” To which, I believe I said (out loud), “Well, then… I’m gonna need a BIG bag” as I twitched and giggled maniacally and watched a few little old ladies back away in terror. I’m just being straight with you – nothing comes between me and my chili peppers.

As soon as I got home and got my groceries put away, I fired up the grill and started roasting. Was it 101F? Yes, it was. Did I care? No, I did not.

Left - fresh & green and going onto the grill; Right - roasted & fabulous

Once they are blackened and hissing from the steam building inside, you remove them from the grill and put them into a heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean towel, then cover the towel with a lid. You have to let your chilies sit and steam for at least 30 minutes. Once they’re cool enough to handle, you simply peel off the roasted skins, remove the stems and squeeze out the seeds. What you’re left with are these gorgeous, roasted chilies.

Hatch Green Chilies - roasted, cleaned and ready to eat.

Three and a half pounds of chili peppers may sound like a lot. It even looks like a lot when you seen them all spread out on the grill, but it’s horribly misleading. I’m not joking. That photo above? That’s a dessert plate, not a dinner plate. My 3.5 pounds of fresh peppers yielded 3 cups of roasted, peeled peppers. I know what you’re thinking – that’s not nearly enough. Right? That’s what I said!

I like to chop mine and freeze them for use all winter.

Those cute little Gladware containers hold 1/2 cup each. It filled six of them. If you were a fly on my wall, you would have seen me standing over them, shaking my head, mumbling “not enough… not nearly enough.” Scary? Nah. Obsessive? Maybe a smidge. But when you love chili peppers as much as I do, you can’t help but covet them when they’re in season. Which is my way of saying I’m going back tomorrow and buying more. If you live in the southern burbs of Houston, you’d better get to HEB early tomorrow. If I make it there first, there may not be any left. Consider yourself warned. PS – don’t get between me and the chilies.

This is not enough. Not nearly enough.

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16 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

16 responses to “Hatch Green Chilies? Yes, Please!

  1. Kat

    I’m firmly convinced you need another 3.5 pounds of chiles. Have no shame. In the middle of winter (even though you have the virtue of living in a place where it largely stays above the freezing mark), you will thank your past-self.

    -From one who knows

    • I love you so much right now. Thanks for the support, Kat!
      This one was going to go ‘intervention’ or ‘ let’s do this!’
      so I’m thrilled to have you on Team Chili Pepper.

  2. Ooh, those look good! I can’t believe you have to “try” to like red bells…they’re my FAVORITE! PW posted a recipe from the Tasty Kitchen of a Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pasta that is wonderful! A little labor intensive but so good. :)

    • I have to admit, Kandi. When I read your comment about roasted red bell pepper pasta, my lip curled a little and a small “ack” may have escaped my lips. But TCP loves bell peppers, so you know what? I may just have to crawl out of my comfort zone and try this one for him. Thanks for the suggestion (I think). heehee

  3. Since i have very limited cooking skills (I’m working on it) what do you use your chili peppers in? Chili? I’m embarrassed to say I’m clueless. Are they really spicey? Like I said… limited cooking skills,lol.

    • Katie,
      Oddly enough, I never put these in red chili. They’re very mild, and they are better suited (in my opinion) for sour cream chicken enchiladas, in a chili rellenos casserole, in taco salads (which we had last night), in homemade chili con queso, in posole or other soups, on cheeseburgers, on a grilled chicken sandwich, etc. I would even put them on a Mexican chicken pizza – grilled chicken, roasted chili peppers, a little Monterrey Jack cheese and some cilantro. I’m sure you could use them in chili recipes, but I would tend to save them for chili verde or a white chili with chicken and corn so the flavor of the peppers would stand out. Oh, and also in breakfast dishes like huevos rancheros or scrambled eggs. Yum. Hope that helps. Now promise me you’ll get out there and try them sometime soon. Purdy please.

  4. I like peppers of all kinds, though I will also admit, green bell are my least favorite. But I’ve never tried these. They must be good if you want to dab the scent of them all over your body. That’s how I feel about lemon zest! : )

    • Thank you, Anne! Finally, someone who cops to not liking green bell peppers. We’re in the minority, and bell pepper users are a vocal bunch (at least in my close circle of friends). Hatch green chili peppers are fabulous. Some grocers carry them in cans, so you might look for them sometime. Those and canned poblano peppers are pantry staples at our house. PS – your lemon zest perfume sounds a lot more practical than my chili pepper version. ;-}

  5. Papa Bear

    I may not be quite the, ahhh, “enthusiast” you are for chili peppers, but gots to tell you I made Seven Pepper Salsa last weekend, including chili peppers. 30 pints. I wanted to turn up the heat a notch on this batch, and I succeeded. I think it’s delicious. Others whimpered a bit, but I consider them rookies.

    • Thanks, Papa Bear. I appreciate your generous use of the word enthusiast. Your seven pepper salsa sounds fabulous – all 30 pints. TCP and I are big salsa lovers. No pepper rookies in our house! We’re all ears if you’d like to share that recipe. Think about it. Get back to me.

  6. Yummy. I am not crazy about green peppers, but like the sweeter red peppers! And the jalapenos and other spicier ones. I am not aware of trying hatch peppers before–but they sound and looks terrific. I would suggest you go for a nice round number like 10 pounds or so! Have fun.

  7. Mrs Spevak

    Just bought a 30lb sack of Hatch Chilis to roast this weekend.
    What was I thinking…it is going to be 104 in Southern Utah.

    • Wow! 30 pounds – that’s impressive. I have Hatch Chili envy. My first instinct was to say “broiler!” but who wants to heat up your house when you can grill them outside? That doesn’t mean you have to stand over them the entire time. I did it in stages:

      1 – light the grill and let it heat to blazing hot
      2 – go out & put the peppers on the grill – as many as possible
      3 – go out 3-5 minutes later; check & flip if they’re ready
      4 – go back inside & have a nice, tall cold drink
      5 – make sure they’re roasted completely & remove
      6 – bring them inside & let them steam 30 minutes
      7 – peel, rinse & remove the seeds, then chop & freeze
      8 – rest on my laurels, have another cold drink & make taco salads

      Best of luck with your chili peppers, Mrs. Spevak! I am chili-green with envy.

  8. D

    Whole foods is selling them these days roasted already, and I’m buying as much as they have every day I get there (2-3-4 containers with about 2lb each, $1.99 per pound already roasted). I love them, too bad I cannot make the six pounds last over 5 days :-)

    • I know what you mean, D. One good pot of chili verde or one large pan of chicken enchiladas, and they’re all gone. Sad, really. But thanks for the tip. I’m heading to Whole Foods tomorrow!

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