I have a refrigerator full of Hatch Valley Chiles, and what a lovely thing to say. To me, they’re a piece of my childhood — the scent of chiles roasting on the range at my grandparents’ house, my Aunt Marianne at the stove, turning them as they blistered and popped. (Then, there would be chiles rellenos — stuffed with cheese — and oh, my.)
Hatch Valley Chiles are special — an ethereal flavor imported from fields in New Mexico, and available for a few weeks in late summer and fall.
I got mine at the Guadalupe Farmers Market in Mesa from T.J., who is our food writer Karen’s personal saint. She calls him her “supplier,” keeps his number close to our heart. (Read her ode. It’s GREAT.) T.J. can also be your saint, because he’ll ship you Hatch Chiles wherever you happen to be.
This time of year, green chiles hang heavy in my grandfathers’ northern Arizona garden, next to wild sunflowers and sweet corn.
His aren’t Hatch, but I love them still. We pick them, roast them, love them. And then I need chiles every day.
You too? Azcentral’s step-by-step photo guide to roasting them is here — you need to roast and remove the bitter skins. Make sure not to rinse the chiles at the end. You’ll wash the flavor away. Sacrilege!
By the way, I think you should hoard them. Freeze roasted chiles and dole them out to yourself for months.
My favorite ways to enjoy:
1. Have you ever put green chiles on a cheese burger? Add bacon if you want to be really bad. (Photo: Neilthecook.com)
2. The Barefoot Contessa’s cheddar corn chowder + a big handful of chopped green chiles? Happy sigh. (Photo: Food Network)
3. The Barefoot Contessa’s jalapeno cheddar cornbread minus the jalapenos, plus 1/3 cup of chiles? Dear Ina — you might want to move to New Mexico. (I might have added a wicked 1/4 cup of sour cream.) Photo- Food Network.
4. The classic Arizona cheese crisp, of course. Toast one side of the very best tortilla you can find in a buttered skillet. Flip the tortilla, and add more butter. (COME ON.) Add a big handful of cheddar cheese and some chiles. Cover to let the cheese melt. Eat like a pizza. Worship Arizona.
(I’ve found you the best tortillas in Arizona — come back Monday.) Photo: uptake.com.
5. Make my grandfather’s hash. Sautee an onion in butter until translucent. Add a cup and a half of thinly sliced ham. You can use posh ham, if you like. He uses thin deli ham, and I think it charming and delicious. When the ham is browning on the edges, add in two or three chopped green chiles. Serve over eggs. ( I like this minus eggs, over tomato-corn succotash on toast. Tyson STILL puts an over-easy egg on top.)
6. Of course there are also chiles rellenos. Green chile pork. Green chile pesto — which is a really cool take on pesto with chiles in the background. (I like this particular recipe with half the garlic, double the chiles, and a lot of fresh mozzarella cheese.)
7. It is 4:38 p.m. I am now starving and have to go find enchiladas right now. Also, this entire post made me miss my family — and I think that’s just a little bit of what food is about.