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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.

                        3. I'm from New England and now live in California. I got addicted to Hatch chiles last year when Raley's was selling them ... roasted and unroasted. Sadly this year they had a limited supply.

                          Here are LOTS of ideas on what to do with them and how I used them.

                          Not your usual Hatch New Mexican green chile recipes … Hatch vodka, pie, kugel, mashed potatoes, calabacitas, etc.

                          I bought about five pounds fresh and five pounds roasted last year ... it wasn't enough. I could have used 50 pounds ... and that was for me alone. As mentioned, roasted hatch peppers freeze beautifully.

                          From that link

                          First of all there are four varieties of Hatch peppers:

                          Mild: NM 6-4
                          Medium; Big Jim
                          Hot: Sandia
                          Extra hot; Lumbia

                          The mild and medium are what is usually sold commercially and most recipes are based on those. Use hot the same way, adding heat for your own taste preference.

                          Be careful with the hot. I had some of those and they are blazing. I can’t even imagine what the extra hot would taste like. They even smelled hot when cut into.

                          There is more hatch minutia in there ... origin ... best way to peel ... and as mentioned ... lots and lots and lots of ideas and recipes.

                          One interesting thing was making an apple crisp with hatch peppers ... that was very good ... aaaaahhhhh ... why oh why didn't Raley's get more and roast them this year.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            There are a lot more than four varieties of Hatch peppers, but I'm curious about "Lumbia." Never heard of it, and can't find anything on the internet. Do you have any more info?

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Might have been a misprint of Lumbre

                              Hard to say where that info came from. I suspect somewhere in that long link there was a New Mexican journalist who had quite a few articles and info about Hatch peppers.

                            2. re: rworange


                              Just picked up a 25# box of chiles from the Raley's near my house and got to talking with the produce manager. Apparently April and May were unseasonably cool in NM. So the peak of the harvest, which normally comes around Labor Day, is going to be in mid-to-late September, and we may see green chile well into October if the frosts don't hit.

                              The growers lost maybe a third of their crop to rain and hail this year. So there may be a little scarcity, and I doubt we'll see the quantities or the prices that we did last year. But there will be more; just keep checking at your local Raley's.

                            3. My guess is most people get through 20lbs and the rest rots and gets chucked

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: gafferx

                                Wrong guess. Re-read the posts. The roasted peppers freeze beautifully.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Lots of potential there for never actually consuming all 45 lbs

                                  1. re: gafferx

                                    Actually, pacing oneself not to exhaust the seasonal supply was the larger issue. I would buy 3 and 5 pound bags of fresh roasted medium and hot, right from the barrel sized wire drum with the propane blazing. Even after roasting, their moisture content is very high, and they freeze perfectly. I'd have to let the hot bags get to room temperature before freezing them. Waste from peeling, de-stemmimg and de-seeding at the time of use is probably one third.
                                    Aside from pureed sauces and chopped for stew, large pieces on a cheesy quesadilla with a warmed tomato based salsa or tomatillo sauce puts additional demands on your stash.
                                    It's a bittersweet moment when one breaks into the last bag, and one calculates the wait until the next harvest.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      >>> Actually, pacing oneself not to exhaust the seasonal supply was the larger issue. <<<


                                      When I bought those 5 pounds of roasted peppers I thought I would never use them all ... which was why I did that big recipe search.

                                      Then I panicked as I started running low ... hoarding that last little bit in the freezer for something Hatch-worthy.

                                      They just work so well with so much, adding a great dimension to dishes. I was skeptical about freezing, but they are really indistiguishable from their roasted state. I think I'll make a hatch nectarine crumble today ... and maybe some eggs.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        The dimension of a Hatch chile is pretty unique, it has a very earthy, complex favor to it. I buy mine roasted at the Jackalope store where they roast them fresh and bundle them into bags. I get them back to my sister's house (she lives in Santa Fe) and we bag up portions into zip bags and freeze them. I just returned from two weeks in Santa Fe myself, muling back my share of the 40 pounds we got as my carry on "luggage" on Southwest. Got some pretty strange looks at the flight progressed.

                                        1. re: lrostron

                                          I do the same thing. I put them in my checked luggage though, they stay frozen that way. :-)

                                      2. re: Veggo

                                        My apologies. Many posters here are well disciplined on preserving their Hatch chile supply. I never had a Hatch but it looks identical to long hot Italian peppers that I like. Are they pretty similar?

                                        The Hatch are roasted---
                                        I've roasted long hot Italian peppers on the grill as a BBQ condiment

                                        1. re: gafferx

                                          Similar to an Italian pepper? Not so much, honestly. Even if you find a can of Hatch (start mild) with some eggs (my son's favorite late night treat), you'd have a better idea. The f;avor is really pretty difficult to describe, it is well, complex, layered. I hate to wax poetic over a pepper, but it's true! When in Santa Fe, if we buy fresh (and we do) we roast those on the grill as well.

                                          1. re: lrostron

                                            Yes, it is hard to describe the taste. The only thing I would suggest gafferx is for your first Hatch pepper start with the fresh roasted.

                                            A few years previous I had some green chile stew from a local New Mexican restauarant ... I thought ... so what ... no big deal.

                                            Then I bought some green chile powder ... nothing.

                                            It wasn't till I got those fresh-roasted peppers last year that the romance started. There are nuances.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              I think I need some green chile stew with pork for lunch today ...despite it being close to 95 degrees.

                                      3. re: gafferx

                                        There's lots of potential for wasting any food that's bought in bulk. But 50 pounds of green chile isn't that much if it's a fixture of your diet. And it keeps basically forever in the freezer, so it isn't going to rot.

                                        Last night I cooked chili verde for my family of four; it took almost 2 pounds of fresh chiles and there's not enough left over for my wife and I to both have it for lunch (a disruption in the domestic harmony may be imminent). So it would take 100 pounds just to have this one dish once a week. And as noted above, I can happily eat green chile sauce 3 meals a day.

                                        Hopefully the grocery will get more chile in soon. Only having 25 pounds around makes me nervous.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Well Mr Allen, you and a lot of other chow hounds seem well organized so I should withdraw my skepticism on consuming all 50lbs. I figured usually there is screw ups in labeling for the freezer. Packages getting lost in the freezer etc
                                          If the chow hound crowd has discipline on this then great!

                                          1. re: gafferx

                                            Organized? You make it sound like a virtue. It's more like a vice--junkies never lose their stash.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              LOL on that!

                                              Roast Hatch chiles=human catnip
                                              Must be a Western thing
                                              But I did once have a mild cayenne addiction so I kind of understand what's going on.
                                              At a restaurant last night I asked for hot sauce and they gave me Tabasco brand habanero sauce. Unpleasantly hot. I prefer to consume more of a lower heat pepper. Maybe that's what the Hatch mystique is. Living in FL I might never know

                                        2. re: gafferx

                                          I'm from Southern New Mexico, Las Cruces, and lived in Albuquerque the last eight years. 45lbs raw will easily be consumed in a year, if you are part of the culture. Eggs, Cheeseburgers, enchiladas, burritos, rellenos, relleno burritos, etc. I don't think more than a couple of days ever went by without consuming green chile on something. The other days I was consuming something with red chile on it.

                                          I just moved to DC and it is upsetting me I can't order a green chile cheeseburger anywhere.