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Aug 25, 2009 09:31 AM

Hatch Peppers

Had an occasion to tool into Central Market this weekend and enjoy the Hatch pepper festivities, Fire roasting abound outside, dozens of tastings inside, with even more items offered that includes the lovely roasted piquant. The versatile fruit can be used virtually in everything savory and sweet otherwise.

I am pretty much taken aback that Dallas doesn't have more locations, such as grocers and nurseries, roasting these beauties. But our price gouging buddies at CM truly do a spectacularly bang up job, and I encourage everyone to at least stop by for a visit.

Attached is a stand in Colorado, something more I am used to in my travels, but never see in Dallas.

Guess what?! I got a fever, and the only prescription... is more Hatch Peppers.

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  1. I'm also big into the Hatch chile season. Whole Foods also roasts them fresh. At least the Plano and Oak Lawn locations do. In my experience, WF has a hotter variety of pepper than CM. This has been true for the last 2 years. Haven't tried CM's yet this year.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Christnp

      Central Market has both hot and mild varieties.

      1. re: DallasDude

        In past years I haven't detected much difference between CM's mild and hot. I found WF's much hotter. I haven't done the comparison this year though.

    2. DD,

      I guess I lost you on this post are you wanting cheaper Hatch chilies? Or someone to roast them? or Just would like to see more vendors?

      3 Replies
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        Wasn't meant to be a source of controversy, guys. Just extolling the virtues of the season and pointing to a spot with a plethora of chile options. Now if someone has their favorite place to purchase them other than CM or WF, i would love to know. Especially a roadside stand or such. I can definitely roast my own, but damn you gotta love the eye piercing love in the air that fills our lungs with with a blast of capsicum and the aroma of freshness.

        I was at the lovers location, and the peppers I manhandled seemed perfect, you could take a crunchy bite out of them whole and fresh.

        I have been to some places in NM, CO, and KS that all had stands everywhere, including all the nurseries and all roasted them fresh (some wood some gas). Even though I am a native Dallasite, these places are wonderful and sketched across the scenery both city and countryside alike. Just odd we don't see them here.

        So this is a shout out for your favorite, if any, place to get the peppers. And if they sell a RTE product, I would love to hear about it.

        1. re: DallasDude

          I'm also in the camp that Hatch peppers aren't anything special. But for a cheaper place, you can also try out Market Street.

          1. re: air

            Market Street is pretty steep as well. Especially on their produce and RTE items. maybe a ltitle higher than CM on somethings.

      2. I find that CM over-roasts them, so for $.99/lb I like buying and roasting my own. Plus they use gas and I just roast a bunch over wood/charcoal before I grill steaks and freeze them myself. This years crop has seemed a little over ripe to me, at least the hot ones at the Lovers CM.

          1. re: Scagnetti

            I agree....I believe we had this same discussion on I am baffled at why people (especially those who love them, no offense DD) don't grow them at home. I believe it is like $6.00/lb at CM with them roasted by someone who may/maynot know how to roast them properly. More often than not that the roasters are hounded by curious folks and really don't concentrate on the task at hand.

            It is a fairly easy task to grow peppers/chilies and very low investment is involved. You can grow them in containers also so no large swaths of land is needed. I believe my peppers with organic supplements (horticultural cornmeal, neem oil, orange oil, liquid seaweed, liquid fish and diatomaceous earth) cost me about $20 plus $1.50 for each plant, which I have 4 ($24 for 4 years). I collect my rain water so for $44.00 I can have about 4 years worth of plants and supplements to feed and fertilize the entire garden (not just my peppers) and know they are grown locally and organically. I also have just about as much "Hatch" chilies as I can stand. If you are a lover of the varietals of Hatch chilies then you can go for spicier strands (also you can stress the plant to make the pepper spicy). Peppers are not that labor intensive and finicky as say tomatoes.

            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              Okay, not disputing any of what LH said. But, after a weekend of hard drinking, and you want something special and easy to prepare for a small crowd of equally hung over people and don't have the time to plant, harvest, and roast your own, the aroma of them roasting outside of CM is a wonderful thing, IMO. I could be wrong, but i believe that they were roasting them over wood. Maybe you guys went on an off day, because the peppers that we got at CM this weekend were absolutely perfect. in no way overdone. overpriced: yes, but, like i said, we had some time constraints that would not permit the planting, harvesting, roasting process.

              1. re: joanna.mcmaster

                Yea, I love the smell of Hatch roasting outside of the store. But it's gas, hence the large white propane tanks next to the roasters.

                As for them being over cooked, I'm no expert on chilies. I just perfer mine to not be so black and have a little tooth to them. Plus they really don't even de-seed/vein them well, if at all, so you gotta do that part yourself anyway.

                CM (my favorite grocery of all times) has pulled off a nice little peice of marketing here, but it's fun.

                1. re: sike101

                  I didn't remember seeing propane tanks, but whatever. There was no intentional marketing for CM. DD stated that he was interested in info on other avenues of obtaining them aside from CM.

                2. re: joanna.mcmaster

                  Very true Joanna. And actually I have grown tons of peppers, spicier and less spicy than the Hatch. I have had gardens larger than most peoples homes (5000 sqf to be exact).

                  I appreciate the home gardener more than anyone, however the Hatch isn't necessarily about the chile (but it is packed with flavor and we all know that the flavor in a pepper is not in the Scoville measurement), rather the time of year and the pageantry and verve behind the roastings, the joy the time brings, and the thoughts and imagination of the cook that holds the pepper in their fast little hands.

                  I agree with Joanna (of course) and we had a delightful time roaming the aisles of CM tasting the odd items with chile in them this past weekend. The joy and camaraderie cannot be found in the garden (that is an entirely different spike of happiness).

                  You guys are busting my chops over what should have been a thread of happiness.

                  1. re: DallasDude

                    DallasDude: so you're saying hatch chile is pretty tasty, but perhaps the hype isn't all about the taste. What's a chili that's roughly the same? I've had them prepared in the west but it's not something at the corner fruit market in NY. What makes a hatch so much better than any other green chile?

                    1. re: jgradieoakes

                      NOT hype. For those that don't get it, they didn't have enough or they were prepared badly.

                      What makes Hatch chiles special? Roast Hatch chiles=human catnip?

                3. re: LewisvilleHounder

                  The kind of soil and climate that you grow things in definitely can affect the flavor.

                  And I'm no food chemist or aggie expert so all I'm doing here is repeating what I've heard and that is that the soil and climate around Hatch, New Mexico, are the very best for growing chiles. I've read where experts can taste the difference between chiles grown in that soil with those climactic conditions vs chiles grown elsewhere.

                  Personally, I've never done a "taste off" so I don't know if I could detect a difference or not. Perhaps I should give it a try.

                  Would be interesting at any rate.

              2. What makes a Hatch so much better than a Poblano or a Pasilla? I know they're good but I don't understand the whole thing.

                11 Replies
                1. re: jgradieoakes

                  Good question. And as a gardener, I can tell you a lot has to do with environment, not necessarily the variety of the seed. The soil packed with great nutrients, the atmosphere, the type of rainfall and frequency. The love of the pepper should not be discounted as well.

                  1. re: DallasDude

                    I can't add to the conversation about growing in DFW. I will say that in addition to CM & MS, Sprouts is currently selling roasted and fresh chiles as has Chuy's in the past.

                    1. re: kylewilliam

                      Also forgot to mention that you can try one of the many Latino groceries in the area, the price will probably be better.

                      1. re: air

                        I know Albertsons had them also this year and both Sprotus and Albertsons were both selling them by the case. I would imiagine store like Terry's, El Rancho, El Mariachi and Fiesta all have them too.

                        1. re: air

                          My god that would be great, but alas, the various markets do not subscribe the the Hatch. I have looked, and will continue to look.

                          1. re: DallasDude


                            Here are several of the cultivars from the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute. It might help you to find the particular chilies (Anaheim) at the Latin-themed markets.

                            Long Green - the New Mexican pod type also called Anaheim,
                            cultivars include NuMex Big Jim, NuMex Joe E Parker and Sandia


                            A full list of all the cultivars and their histories grown in NM are located below:

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                              That is an amazing amount of information, thank you LH, as usual.

                              I sincerely think next season I will have a truckload shipped here, and set up in some rented spot or parking lot. I will roast the peppers myself and sell bbq. lol I know I would make a bundle, and more importantly, what fun!

                              There is simply some sort of lack of this in Dallas. But I also was recounting times with a friend this weekend (Jimmy) and told him about when I was a kid they people brought in styrofoam containers from the coast full of shrimp on ice and sold them on the side of LBJ, one was located just before what is now Bush just west of 35.

                              Anyway, thanks for the heads up.

                    2. re: jgradieoakes

                      I prefer vine ripened bell peppers myself, much more versatile and they just taste better than Hatch chiles.

                      1. re: Scagnetti

                        I would generally agree in fact I personally really like Corno di Toro sweet peppers. I vastly prefer them with a steak. That being said Anaheim are far better for new mexico or mexican style cooking.

                        1. re: Scagnetti

                          Where as I can appreciate the fact you might not like earthy spiciness, combined with the fanciful sweet (thereby creating a more complex flavor profile), I am of the opinion that the bell pepper is overrated. I would never use the green bell in anything, and would substitute a poblano every time. The red has some merits.

                        2. re: jgradieoakes

                          It's apples and oranges. NuMex chiles have a completely different flavor than poblanos. As for pasillas, AFAIK by definition they're dried. Although Hatch chiles get dried, too, all the fuss around Labor Day is over the fresh ones.

                          The flavor has something to do with terroir, but a lot to do with genetics, too. You can grow a reasonable facsimile of a Hatch chile elsewhere (which is exactly what Sr. Ortega did when he brought seeds from New Mexico and started growing and canning peppers around Anaheim). Anaheims may not be as good as the chiles grown in New Mexico, but they're clearly close relatives.

                          Poblanos, jalapenos, and bell peppers, on the other hand, are completely different animals. Different shapes, different colors, different textures, different flavors. If you're trying to make a traditional Oaxacan dish, a NuMex chile is going to compromise the final result. But if you want to make traditional New Mexican green chile stew, Hatch peppers are required.