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The Best Method For Roasting A Batch Of Hatch Chiles

Raw hatch chiles
Raw hatch chiles - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

It's hard to talk about the cuisine of the Southwest United States without talking about hatch chiles. The versatile peppers, whose green variety shares the mildness of a poblano, hail from the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico, giving them the same regional significance as the San Marzano tomatoes of Campania, Italy, or the Champagne of Champagne, France. It's no wonder hatch chiles are an indisputable ingredient in New Mexican green chili.

Though they're sold frozen or pre-packed far beyond the Land of Enchantment, there's nothing like happening across a farmers market that sells the green kind fresh. If you're lucky enough to find them during their peak harvest season between August and September, do yourself a favor and get a big bag. Go home, roast them, and let them fill your kitchen with their signature smoky-sweet aroma.

You could certainly toss them in olive oil and salt and roast them on a sheet tray in the oven, but if you have access to an open flame from a gas stove, a charcoal grill, or an outdoor fire pit, that's even better — it's a nod to the hatch chile roasting events across the Southwest, in which piles of chiles are roasted in large crates over an open flame. Turn them slowly with a pair of tongs until their skin is evenly charred, then let them cool completely before removing the skin, stems, and seeds.

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From Mac And Cheese To Chile Relleno

Salsa verde in white bowl with green peppers
Salsa verde in white bowl with green peppers - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Although not quite as successful as the oven or open flame methods, it is in fact possible to cook hatch chiles in the microwave. While you'll miss out on the smokiness and char from fire roasting, zapping the peppers in a covered, microwave-safe dish for seven or eight minutes will soften them and loosen their skins, allowing for easier peeling.

Once your chiles are roasted, peeled, and seeded, there are plenty of ways to eat them. If the process of roasting them was effort enough, keep it simple by chopping them up and stirring them into macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, polenta, your favorite creamy dip, or a bit of mayonnaise for an elevated condiment to slather on sandwiches.

If you have more time on your hands and want to use them as the ultimate star ingredient of a dish, bust out your blender. When blitzed with other ingredients, they make a classic base for several Southwest- or Mexican-inspired sauces. Take charred salsa verde, which, along with green tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and other ingredients, usually calls for jalapeño peppers. Using hatch chiles instead will bring a bit of smokiness to the sauce, which is fantastic on green enchiladas. If you want to keep the chiles whole, use them for chile relleno, the beloved Oaxacan street food of stuffed peppers that normally calls for poblanos.

Freezer Friendly

Pile of green hatch chiles
Pile of green hatch chiles - Sally Mitchell/Shutterstock

Fresh green hatch chiles are nearly impossible to come by outside the Southwest, which makes them all the more special. If you hear word of a hatch chile purveyor near you in another region of the country, chances are they sell pre-roasted, pre-blended peppers in a jar or an airtight freezer pack. You should by all means take advantage of their offerings; they'll still make your salsa verde dreams come true.

If you have some (very nice) friends in the Southwest, however, ask them to roast some fresh chiles for you and freeze them in an airtight container for your next visit. If they say yes, tell them three things: One, that you'll never let them go; two, that the peppers will keep in the freezer for up to a year; and three, that they don't need to peel, stem, or seed the peppers they plan to freeze. In fact, some say that keeping the skin on will help preserve their delicious flavor and make them easier to peel later on.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.