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
- 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.
- 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.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and some grated Mexican-blend cheese.
- Serves 6-8.
And for the truly adventurous among us, there is even a recipe for a Hatch Chili Margarita!