Saturday, August 24, 2013


DEBORAH CROMBIE: It's August in the Southwest, which means
it's Hatch chili season. This is the southwest equivalent of, say, Maine lobsters. You eat them like crazy when they are in season, and only when they are in season.

Hatch chilis are grown primarily in the little town of Hatch, New Mexico, north of Las Cruces and the Rio Grande Valley. The official Hatch Chili Festival is held Labor Day weekend, but the chilis have been in supermarkets here in Texas for the last couple of weeks.

If you're lucky, you'll see them arriving in mesh-backed trucks, a bounty of gorgeous bright green. And if you're really lucky, you'll have a local supermarket that sets up huge cast iron roasters outside on the weekends. They roast the chilis and sell them right off the grill, by the pound.  And the smell of roasting Hatch chilis is like
nothing else.  Heady. Tantalizing. Definitely, dizzyingly mouth-watering.

So what to do with the five pounds of roasted Hatch chilis you've just been seduced into buying??

That's what I wondered last weekend, when I stopped at the supermarket for something mundane and then couldn't resist the chilis.  My husband doesn't like anything with peppers, even mild peppers like the Hatch.  So while I was contemplating recipes, I just... ate the chilis.  Not the entire five pounds, but the first couple of days I was sneaking into the fridge every couple of hours for just one more chili. (And congratulating myself on the huge amount of Vitamin C I was consuming!)

This weekend, I'm going prepared with recipes.  Here's my first choice:

Hatch White Chicken Chili


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 Hatch chiles, roasted, skinned, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 cups cooked and shredded chicken 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 (15-ounce) can Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels stripped off 
  • Garnishes: Sour cream, grated cheddar or Jack cheese, tortilla chip, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté about 10 minutes, until translucent; add the garlic during the last minute with the onions.
  2. Add the chiles, chicken, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Sauté for 2 more minutes. Add vegetable broth, beans and flour. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours or longer, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and some grated Mexican-blend cheese.
  4. Serves 6-8.
And for the truly adventurous among us, there is even a recipe for a Hatch Chili Margarita!

Be brave!!!



Joan Emerson said...

I have to admit that I’ve never, until this moment, heard of Hatch chilies, but your recipe for white chicken chili [which is one of my favorites] sounds really delicious. Do you have a suggestion for a substitute for those of us who can't get Hatch chilies?
Thanks for sharing the recipe . . . .

Reine said...

Debs, I wonder if we can get these in Tucson. Scout would love them, and if they're mild so would I. If I can find some I will make your recipe—looks fabulous!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Oh my gosh Debs, I'm so envious of those roasted chilis! I wonder if you couldn't just cover them in oil and kept them in the fridge to use over time?

It would be almost worth living in Texas....

Kaye Barley said...

I love favorite regional foods - how fun! I've not heard of Hatch Chilies before and am interested in what makes them unique? The chicken chili recipe sounds delish, except for those beans - I am just not a bean person, I'm afraid and am one of those who prefers my chili beanless.

Marianne in Maine said...

I'm growing mild chilis in my garden this year. I hope to make a chili mix so I can use them all year. Those Hatch chilis at the grocery store sound wonderful.

We were on the coast yesterday and lobsters were $3.99/pound right off the boat. They are very plentiful right now. In fact, the lobstermen/women are setting about half the number of traps they normally do because of the glut. So buy lobster! :-)

Hallie Ephron said...

Sounds delicious. Wish we could get them here.

Last night after we finished barbecuing chicken, as the charcoal burned down I threw a bunch of red peppers on the grill and shut the lid. A few hours later the grill was cold and I pulled them out. Not charred but soft and lightly smoked.

Refrigerated them. Cut them up and seeded them - and dowsed with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, S&P. Delicious almost grilled red peppers.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

YOU are so adventurous! And Hallie, so clever.

In Phoenix last week, we had delicious blistered..what were they called? Shipasura? Chipasuta? Shipasota? Peppers. Anyone, anyone know what I'm talking about?

(Kaye, xoox, I'm with ya on the beans..)

Deb said...

Beans, yes! Love beans, especially the white ones. But you can put Hatch chilis in omelets and frittatas and soups and stews, and, as we saw, even in drinks!

Kaye, the Hatch was developed by the University of New Mexico, and I suppose the specialness is partly because it only grown in one place with a limited harvest. But it also has a really unique flavor.

Joan, I think the best thing to substitute would be canned green chilis. Not bell peppers--they don't have same taste at all.

Fran said...

I lived in Las Cruces, NM, most of my life, and I can say with absolute certainty that I miss everything about Hatch green chile season!

Shannon said...

I miss chile season. I spent 4 years in NM and learned to love Hatch chiles and green chile stew during that time. Canned green chiles do work, but I miss having access to the fresh ones.

Pat D said...

Oh yes,it is Hatch chile season here in Houston at all the grocery stores. Hatch chile corn bread, cheese bread, and so many things I can't think of them. The stores are very inventive with their recipes. And they each have roasters out in the parking lots too! We lived in El Paso a few years a millennium ago, and New Mexico is still one of my favorite places.

Pat D said...

I'd forgotten. I still have a little recipe book I got in Las Cruces for green chiles. Maybe I should find it. . .

Anonymous said...

you can put several at a time in seal-up bags,and put them in the freezer----take out what you need,thaw them and peel chop up for your recipe----or leave whole for Chili Rellenos! We have chilies year round this way!

Kay said...

We love green chilies at our house! I roast them in the oven, peel & clean them. We take flour tortillas, heat them on our cast iron comal (tortilla griddle.) Sprinkle some shredded cheddar on them, then fold over with a green chili inside. Best quesadilla you'll ever have! Yum!

I freeze the extra peppers between layers of wax paper in a zip freezer bag. makes it very easy to take out what I need for a recipe.

I will say that if you get the hotter ones (we've reached point where we only eat the milder ones,) be sure to wear some gloves. I burnt my hand badly a few weeks ago peeling peppers. I found that soaking my hand in a solution of 1 part clorox to 5 parts water soothed it & took the fire out. I'd tried aloe, cold water, dish detergent & several other common remedies. Only the bleach solution helped.