Tag Archives: pass the chili peppers please

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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