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Sep 13, 2009 08:54 PM

"Hatch" Chiles -- Brand name or real meaning? [split from Texas]

(Note: This thread was split from the Texas board at: -- The Chowhound Team)

Funny all of this love for what's just a brand name now, like "Angus" for beef...

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  1. It's not just a brand name, and there's nothing recent about the usage. For at least the last 30 years, "Hatch" chiles have included peppers from the Hatch valley (not just the town) and surrounding areas. But it's still a distinct region. Today I roasted 50 pounds of chile from a grower headquartered in (OMG!!!) Deming. It's still the same stuff.

    Now if they started selling peppers from Chimayo (or worse yet, Anaheim) as Hatch chiles, I'd have a problem with it. But "Hatch chile" universally refers to the NuMex strains of long green chiles developed at NMSU in Las Cruces and grown in the southeast corner of New Mexico. Nothing wrong with that.

    10 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      50 pounds? I want to be your friend more than ever. And I fixed your tartare 3 times in the last 2 weeks; lovin' it. I have found the balance of the strong flavors, and the shallots and parsley really do make it alive. Buen provecho, and thanks.

      1. re: Veggo

        Where did you find Alan's tartare recipe? Is it on CH somewhere?

        1. re: Jaymes

          Somewhere, I can't recall where. My last batch was 12 oz. ground tenderloin, 3 egg yolks, 5 smashed anchovies, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of small capers (and I give them a mini-crush with a fork, so they can't roll away), about half of a good-sized shallot finely minced, S& P, and some torn flat leaf parsley. I serve it on toasted rye bread. It's back on my menu this week, too. At the '21' Club, it's 38 bucks, and I like Alan's better.

      2. re: alanbarnes

        "Farmers from other parts of New Mexico and other states including Arizona ship green chiles to Hatch to be resold. Some Hatch chile producers are reportedly shipping seeds to Mexico and having the chiles grown south of the border, where water and labor are cheaper." Is Arizona better or worse than Anaheim?

        "There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them," according to Dave DeWitt, one of the nation's foremost authorities on chile peppers and the author of scads of books on the subject." I'm going with Dave, here.

        1. re: thursby

          But wait, I thought eating Hatch chilies was an ethereal experience akin to meditating with the Mahatma?

          1. re: thursby

            It's true that "Hatch Chile" isn't precisely defined. But that doesn't mean that the term has no meaning. It's a convenient usage that encompasses a group of varietals (Big Jims, Joe Parkers, R Nakys, Sandias, 6-4s, Barker's Hots, etc., etc., etc.) that are predominately grown in the area west of Las Cruces (not the southeast corner of the state - that's what I get for typing while tired), and that share certain characteristics, including shape, size, and flavor profile (with considerable variation in heat).

            Only a fool would claim that peppers have to be grown in the town of Hatch to deserve the name. It would be kind of like claiming that Napa wines have to be grown inside the Napa city limits. Long before they became nationally popular, Hatch chiles were grown throughout the Hatch Valley and the surrounding region.

            As far as using the Hatch name for peppers grown far afield, yes, I have a problem with that. I think it's misleading. But the vast majority of what's sold as Hatch chiles are grown in Dona Ana and Luna Counties in New Mexico. If you have any doubt, just go to Las Cruces some weekend in late summer and check out the surrounding valleys. Plenty of chile being grown there.

            Given their growing popularity and the attendant risk of misleading advertising, it might make sense to establish an DOC that puts limits on the areas where "Hatch chile" can be grown. But to say that there's no such thing as a Hatch chile? Nonsense. I've been eating Hatch chile for more than 40 years, and there's never been any doubt as to what the term means.

            Just because a term is susceptible to misuse or misappropriation doesn't deprive it of meaning, either. Take a walk down the wine aisle at the local supermarket and have a close look at the bottles of bubbly from Korbel, Cooks, and Andre. They all call themselve "champagne" even though they're not. If we follow your logic, that means there's no such thing as champagne.

            There are lots of folks in Reims and Las Cruces who would disagree with you.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Another analogy is the Vidalia onion. The same sweet onion is allowed to grow outside of the town limits of Vidalia, Georgia.
              And a Hatch is not an Anaheim, period.

              1. re: Veggo

                Only if you are from Las Cruces you will call it Cruces. They grow chile and cotton. A lot. And it gets very humid in August and the swamp coolers don't work.

                Totally off topic there was a movement & lawsuit to have the Crosses removed from the City logo and all remotely related religious imagry removed from all city locations. Crazy stuff. What would we call Los Angeles? San Francisco? St. Louis? Geepers. Still, there ought to be a patron saint of chile, anyone know who that would be?

                1. re: aggiecat

                  El Virgen del Carmen is the patron saint of Chile (the country). Seems an easy enough step to make her the patron saint of chile.

                  I love that they're trying to get rid of the crosses on public buildings in a city called "The Crosses." Duh. And never mind LA or SF, the capitol of New Mexico is called "Holy Faith."

                  Help!!! Help!!! I'm bein' repressed!!!

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Oh yes, let's all have a conversation about the oppression inherant in the system. Waaaay too much Monty Python in my youth, does it show?

                    El Virgen del Carmen it is.