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Can someone please explain to me why anyone would need 40 or 50 lbs. of Hatch chiles each year?

I admit it -- I am a Yankee who has been transplanted to this part of the country. Hatch chiles, mild and hot, seem to be good. However, I have noticed that most people here are buying them by the case -- and not just in the little containers that are already fire-roasted (which I buy, because they are hard to roast properly in an oven/broiler). What are these people doing with all of these chiles? Even more perplexing -- how do you keep that many without losing them to mold?

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  1. Since you won't say WHAT part of the country, I will assume you are a yankee transplanted to a southwestern region?

    That point is moot, however, because no matter WHAT region you've been tranplanted to, the reason why would be the same. Hatch chiles can be roasted, and then turned into a wonderful sauce that is said to be QUITE addictive. Whether it's a real physical (medical) addiction or not, I'm not sure. But, I can say, that after living in Denver and Albuquerque for a good 3/4 years, I can attest that the cravings are real. I'm actually thinking about ordering some via the web this year for the first time. I haven't had real green chile for like 5 years, but everytime somebody mentions it, the cravings start.

    The folks you see buying them in serious quantities might be having parties, they might own or be buying for restaurants, or they might be buying chiles at height of season and then stocking up for the freezer? 40-50 lbs of roasted chiles might not go a long way for a busy restaurant in New Mexico, Denver, and even parts of Cali.

    Just some thoughts.

    10 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      1) Texas.

      2) Sauce, you say? Addictive? Is that really addictive, or just one of those flavors that you get really into? Interesting. How do you make it? Puree and then cook, or cook and then puree? Any recipes you can mention? Do you use the hot or the mild?

      3) The bulk-buying appears to be largely done by moms with kids in the shopping cart, so I would not say they are going to restaurants. They may be having parties, or perhaps just planning ahead to satisfy a winter-long jones, I guess. Mostly, they seem to be buying hot chiles.

      1. re: RGC1982

        Are you talking about the Central Markets in Austin? Those are the chiles we get each year and then freeze. I love all of Central Market's additional green chile goodies, too! Yum! Gotta try the green chile brownie!

        1. re: RGC1982

          Because everyone knows that moms don't own or work in restaurants.

          Don't think the Hatch peppers are physically addictive, but rather addictive in the sense that people use when speaking of foods they like a lot.

          1. re: ccbweb

            When living in Albuquerque, MANY people would claim they got a bad headache if they had gone a few days without chile. This is what I am referring to when I say addictive. And I don't mean like many people that I knew personally. This was a widely known phenomena (if you will.) Heck - even Burger King would ask if you wanted chile on your whopper - no joke. But anyway, it was pretty much common knowledge that chile was a cure of what physically ailed you if you hadn't had any in a few days.

            1. re: gordeaux

              Wow, that's amazing. I had no idea about that at all; now I'm even more curious to try the real thing....though I suppose in limited quantities, just in case. Thanks for the info!

            2. re: ccbweb

              Not trying to be cynical here, -- these are stay-at-home Moms, that's all. Not many women work in this town -- I am one of the few I know that do. No point intended, just an observation. They are buying for personal use.

              1. re: RGC1982

                Wow, Austin sure has changed since I lived there, if not many women work anymore.

                I was introduced to Hatch green chiles at Chuy's in Austin and I wish I had some right now. It is so not a thing in the Pacific Northwest, unfortunately. I prefer it with pork.

            3. re: RGC1982

              Here's a very simple, very delicious Hatch chile sauce: for two chiles, one hot and one mild, add two green onions, one roma tomato, and salt to taste. Whiz all together in a food processor or blender. I didn't remove the seeds and membranes, but you can if you don't want as much heat. Of course, roast and peel the chiles first. And obviously this can be upsized to any amount you want. I plan to make a large batch of it tonight....

            4. re: gordeaux

              My supermarket had Hatch chilies today for the first time. Are they different than the Anaheims we have on the west coast????

              1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                Very. Anaheims are consistently mild, Hatch have degrees of heat that can hurt. Anaheims are more yellow-green, and more oblate.

            5. They freeze well. My only limitation was freezer space. A bowl of green with braised pork shoulder is the way to pass a winter afternoon in Cuchara, CO, elevation 9000 ft.
              Starting a winter with fewer than 50 pounds of Hatch is like leaving for vacation with not enough underwear.

              1. I'm with RCG -- recipe please!

                1 Reply
                1. re: chefbeth

                  I'm biased, but I'm copying the recipe I just posted on my blog, which is my boyfriend's (he's not a native Denverite but he's been here 20 years, so close enough). He uses loin because he insists that better meat tastes better even if it is boiled; on that point alone I may disagree with him, and he admits shoulder works too.

                  GREEN CHILE (serves 6-8 as a stew, many more as a sauce)

                  1 lb. of pork, shoulder
                  8 cloves garlic, minced
                  2 T vegetable oil
                  3-4 T flour
                  1 quart roasted green chiles (ca. 12-15), peeled, seeded & sliced
                  1/2 of 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained ("I don't like too much tomato in my chile, but you could add more")
                  S & P to taste

                  Place the pork in a large pot with more than enough water to cover. Simmer on low heat until very tender, about an hour & a half.

                  Remove pork & set aside to cool. Reserve cooking water in a vessel you can hold with one hand.

                  In another pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; brown. Add flour, stirring to create a medium-light roux ("a couple of shades lighter than a penny"). Immediately turn the heat down to medium. While continuing to stir constantly with one hand, slowly add the pork water with the other, until the thickening liquid is the consistency of thin gravy.

                  Add the chiles and tomatoes; shred the pork directly into the pot. Season with salt & pepper; reduce the heat to low & simmer for at least a half-hour, up to an hour.

                2. The folks you see are buying a year's supply of green chiles. You get a case or three, then roast, peel, stem, seed, and freeze them. A produce box of peppers will yield a gallon or so once it's been prepared, and since they're only available a few weeks a year, people stock up.

                  What you do with them is make green chile sauce, which is good on everything from eggs to enchiladas, and which forms the base of New Mexican chili verde and its close relative, green chile stew. Seriously, this time of year it can be a 3-meal-a-day thing. Breakfast? Huevos rancheros with green chile sauce. Lunch? Rice and beans with a big scoop of green chile sauce over the top. Dinner? Pork braised in green chile sauce. And I'm ready for more on day two.

                  As far as the similarity to Anaheims, they're the same species. But there are those (myself included) who believe that if you plant two clones of the same plant, one in California and one in the Hatch Valley, the fruit of the NM plant will taste better. Terroir and all, you know.

                  Moreover, there are lots of varieties of Anaheim pepper. All or virtually all of those sold in grocery stores as Anaheims, and many of the Hatch chiles, are Sandias. Not a bad pepper, but a little anemic. R Nakys are a little hotter, then 6-4s, then Joe Parkers, then Big Jims, which approach jalapeno-level spiciness. And then there are the Barker's Hots, which can scorch you pretty good. I like 6-4s by themselves, or a mix of hotter and milder chiles. They all look the same, so watch out...

                  Here's my great-grandmother's recipe for green chile sauce...

                  Roast chiles over high heat until the skins blacken and blister, then put them in a paper bag and let stand for ten minutes or so to steam. Remove the skins (they'll slip right off), stems, seeds, and membranes. (This is the point at which you freeze them.) Sweat some onion and garlic in lard with a little salt until softened, then add chopped chiles and simmer for a few minutes. Throw in some cumin and/or Mexican oregano if you want. Pass some of the sauce (or all of it, if you like it really smooth) through a food mill, or hit it with a stick blender, thinning with chicken stock as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Correct seasonings and serve.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Thank you, very informative. So if the carton indicates the Hatch peppers come from the Hatch Valley I should have something better than an anemic Anaheim right???

                    1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                      Most of the chiles grown around Hatch are Sandias, which I would consider to be a distinct improvement over grocery store Anaheims in flavor, but not in heat level. I prefer to just use moderately spicy chiles, but if you are stuck with grocery store chile that doesn't indicate the variety, mixing varieties labeled mild (usually Sandia) and hot (usually Big Jim) is a good way to get a sauce with a manageable kick.

                      But be careful and taste as you go--a few Barker's mixed into a box of Big Jims don't stand out visually, but they sure can bump the capsicum needle into the red pretty quickly. Just imagine something that looks like a jalapeno but burns like a serrano...

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      Exactly what alanbarnes said.
                      Although, I do simmer the whole thing for a while with some bite sized pork shoulder chunks, BUT, I use evoo instead of lard at the beginning. (6 of one, half dozen of the other, I guess.)
                      Whether the ones grown in Hatch are better or not, I don't really know. I do know, however, that, I can't get anything CLOSE to NM green chile sauce here in Chicago. A few restaurants have opened claiming they serve NM food, but the green chile doesn't even come close to the stuff we used to make, or get in NM restaurants (Denver too.)

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Alanbarnes, thank you -- for enlightening me and for passing along what sounds like a great recipe! I am going to try this on a smaller scale, and if it seems to be good, I'll go buy a big batch too.

                        1. re: RGC1982

                          Yanno, I'm starting to think it IS worth it to drive 700 miles this weekend to get 50 -100 lbs of fresh Hatch. I wonder what the big deal is about overly sweet baked beans and neon red hot dogs here in Maine. Go figure.

                        2. re: alanbarnes

                          Oops. I either was misinformed or misremembered the information I've been given. Sandias are quite hot: between Big Jims and Barkers. The super-mild chile is a #20. Thanks to rworange for posting the correct information.

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