Friday, September 11, 2009

Chile Today...Chile Tomorrow...Chile Everyday!

It's Hatch chile time! I haven't been this excited about a food item for a while. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I use chiles in lots of stuff. The more, the hotter, the better--that's what it's all about here at Fartwood Manor.

It wasn't until our trip to Santa Fe a couple of years ago that we really discovered the awesomeness of green chile. I swear we ate green chile at The Plaza Cafe three of four times while we were there. Sure, we like the chile verde at El Burrito Jr., but there's nothing quite like a bowl of green chile made with Hatch chiles.

Hatch chiles are basically Anaheim chiles (with a little of hybridization over the years) that have been grown in Doña Ana county in New Mexico. Hatch is a town about 40 miles north of Las Cruces and is said to have the best chiles. It is sort of like the appellation of grapes used in wines in France: this grape grown in this area makes this type of wine. And like in France, it is the terrior that provides the magic that makes Hatch-grown chiles the best. So when I saw a post on Chowhound about Hatch chiles being available in SoCal I knew I had to get me some.

A few weeks ago, Bristol Farms had a big Hatch chile promotion sponsored by Melissa's, the specialty produce distributor. They were going to be selling and roasting chiles at the Manhattan Beach store. I know, I doesn't get any more gringo than getting chiles at Bristol Farm in Manhattan Beach, but you do what you have to bad could it be?

The roasting time was from 4-9 pm, so I got there right around 4 and there were a few people already in line. There was an area in front of the store set up with the roasters and tables where they offered some pre-roasted chiles. Melissa's also gave out CDs and recipe cards. Just before I got there, they had fired up the roasters and promptly set off the sprinkler system....DOH! So they had to move the roasters out from under the patio cover and because of that were running a little behind. That was OK with me, it gave me a chance to chit chat with the ladies in front of me who were originally from New Mexico.

The deal was if you wanted to have the fresh-roasted had to buy the whole case--which was about 30 pounds. I think it cost around $35. That's a lot of chiles, but what the heck....

The roasters were smaller than I thought they would be, but this way one case fit perfectly, so everyone got just what they paid for.
It took about 10 minutes total to roast the chiles. The air smelled so awesome! Kind of made your nose tingle a little bit too. On the way home, the aroma in my car was almost overpowering and lingered about 4 days. I have 30 pounds of roasted what?!?! "Who will help me peel these chiles said Mary-Wary?" Time to enlist Sous Chef Dale and get on with peeling and seeding. It took us about an hour to get it done. Rubber gloves are a MUST. Oh and don't rub your eyes, nose or ANYTHING--or you will be sorry!
After they were all peeled and seeded (for the most part!) I packed them into recipe-sized portions in Ziplocs and stuck them in the freezer.
We had a little green chile frenzy that weekend. First, I made chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce.
Next was a really great breakfast dish of eggs, chiles, sausage and cheese. Super easy to make and it just gets baked in the oven and voila! Instant yummyness. I love to cook, but I really hate to make breakfast stuff--this one was so good I am definitely going to make it again.

I made some green chile cheeseburgers too, but they got scarfed down so fast I didn't have a chance to take a picture. Somehow, I have a feeling there will be another photo op soon. Once cooler weather arrives I will try to perfect my chile verde recipe and I would like to make a sauce of some kind. I will definitely be exploring some of these links I found on Chowhound: links A links B.
I also found this amusing report of another Hatch chile safari from my go-to-guy for all things Mexican, Gustavo Arellano. I guess it sometimes pays off to be gabacho.


Miss Healthypants said...

Wow, that's a lot of chiles! :) But those recipes look totally delicious...can you come and cook for me & my hubby? *smiles*

MaryRuth said...

next time I go to Chicago I'll cook for problemo!