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Apr 10, 2010 09:28 AM

Hatch chiles: Flavor profile? Heat level? Substitutes? Non New Mexico cuisines/dishes that a Hatch chile lover would enjoy?

We have close acquaintance who enjoys good food in general but was raised on and truly enjoys Hatch chiles. From what I understand, people in New Mexico find just about any excuse they can to put these in just about anything possible. I don't think I've ever had a Hatch chile - they closely resemble an Anaheim chile in size and shape. I am wondering what other chiles they resemble in taste, what makes them different, and what the heat level is relative to say, an Anaheim, Jalapeno, Serrano, Thai Bird's eye, Scotch Bonnet, etc.

We all plan on going to dinner some time soon and am wondering what Hatch chile devotees enjoy outside of New Mexican cuisine. Regional Mexican? Peruvian? Spanish? Thai? None of the above? Thanks for any info or pointers.

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  1. I'd consider myself a Hatch Green Chile Devotee...

    They're a subset of the Anaheim, I do believe, and the heat levels can vary. I'd say for the most part, tho, they get no hotter than a serrano, and are usually milder than a decent jalapeno. Their heat tends to be a mellow / creeper type moreso than a popping type.
    IMO, what makes them different is that the flesh gets almost buttery when they are roasted properly.

    As for the red chiles, I can take em or leave em.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that anyone who likes New Mexican food is not going to also automatically like some other ethnic variety of food just because they like NM food.
    I like any food prepared well.

    6 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      I am a Hatch chile fan as well.
      Just finished up last years batch of roasted green chile from the freezer. It made a mean posole, with a nice kick of heat. Hotter than I expected, to be honest, but I think the dish mellowed some overnight.
      We are lucky enough in the Bay Area to have a few stores carry them when in season, late summer into fall, and I usually get a case and roast them up, then freeze batches in zip-lock bags. They last very nicely this way, even up to two years in the freezer.
      When I've traveled to New Mexico I found both the red and green chile in the freezer section, so convenient ant not too pricey (found them on-line too, but for $$$).
      Try it, you'll like it.
      I love red and green alike, they both do wonderful things to pork shoulder.

      1. re: rabaja

        I'm in LA, and a couple of market chains (Bristol Farms and Albertson's which is the parent of Bristol Farms) offer Hatch chiles around the same time. Individual stores will also offer roasting on specific dates as well. I hear it smells wonderful but at the same time, one has to govern his or her distance as well as consider wind direction relative to the smoke and capsicum.

        How do you prepare pork shoulder with the hatch?

        1. re: bulavinaka

          I throw it in with the posole and chiles. Cooked slowly on the stove with water and onions (salt near the end) it is sublime and perfect for weather like today.
          This makes me want to soak some posole today for tomorrows dinner. We do have a storm coming afterall!

          1. re: rabaja

            I can think of a couple of points of overlap in Peruvian cooking
            - hominy is a popular in Peru as in Mexico and NM, maybe more so. It's not limited to a pork soup (posole)
            - aji de gallina might be described as a chile amarillo, chicken with a yellow chile sauce.

      2. re: gordeaux

        >>I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that anyone who likes New Mexican food is not going to also automatically like some other ethnic variety of food just because they like NM food.
        I like any food prepared well.<<

        I can respect this but at the same time, there must be dishes or cuisines that seem a natural segue for New Mexicans. From the expats I've spoken with, it seems Spain has a heavier cultural influence on New Mexico than does Mexico. Does this jive with you, and if so, does this also have any influence on the food?

        1. re: bulavinaka

          When I was in NM two weeks ago, I mixed it up by having Indian/Nepali food one night. This was one of the few times where the food was sufficiently spicy without my having to make a special request. Guess that when you're surrounded by chileheads, there's no need to dumb down the cooking!

      3. I am wondering what other chiles they resemble in taste, what makes them different, and what the heat level is relative to say, an Anaheim, Jalapeno, Serrano, Thai Bird's eye, Scotch Bonnet, etc.

        You can not substitute another pepper for them. You can buy them on line.

        The heat level can vary in the same batch. There can be 10 mild chilis and one that will burn a hole in your stomach.

        Just was in NM last week and had some dishes with them. Search this site for Hatch chilis and use my name rworange and you will find lots of info and recipes on Chowhound.

        I am in Gautemala now with limited search time so can not do the search for you

        1. Generally speaking, New Mexico chile is hotter than Anaheim (a subset of the NM chile), but slightly milder than the jalapeno. The flavor is similar to the Anaheim.

          PS--My guess is that most people who are crazy about NM food probably do tend to like "ethnic" cuisines, simply because most of those cuisines realy heavily on spice and hot pepper. At root NM cuisine may very well qualify as an ethnic cuisine.

          1. I adore hatch green chiles; I lived in New Mex for six years. The chiles has a flavor all their own and the smell when roasted is mouth watering (IMO). I agree with some of the other posters in that they can vary in intensity from pepper to pepper and they go well in everything. I ordered some seeds from NMSU's Chile Institute so I can grow my own as we can't get them where I live but my daughter lives in AZ and she sends me some which I put in the freezer for when I get a craving...

            1. What makes Hatch chiles different is marketing hype. Don't get me wrong, I love 'em, and the chile festival (held in Hatch every Labor Day weekend) is lots of fun. But it's a tourist event more than an agricultural one.

              Some people (including my local grocer) refer to any New Mexico chile as "Hatch chile." That simply isn't correct. I go through at least 50 pounds of New Mexico greens a year, and haven't bought anything from the Hatch valley in recent memory; usually they're from Deming, although Chimayo is also a good source.

              Far more important than the farm's location is the strain of chile the farmers are growing. For decades now, the folks at NMSU have been trying to breed cultivars of New Mexico chile that are predictable with regard to heat. Some varieties are more consistent than others, and there's very little visual difference between them.

              If you can find vendors who know the strain of chile they're selling, you'll have a better starting point. In ascending order of heat, you've got R. Naky and 6-4, which are generally sold as "mild" peppers. "Medium" peppers are usually Sandias, Big Jims or Joe Parkers, but watch out for the Sandias - they can be really unpredictable. Then there are Barkers and XX Hots. The XX Hots are far hotter than serranos - 60-70k on the Scoville scale as opposed to 10-20k for a serrano.

              Flavor-wise, the closest comparison is to an Anaheim. Which maxes sense, since Emilio Ortega brought the seeds for his famous canned chiles from New Mexico to (you guessed it) Anaheim, Orange County, California. But I find that Anaheims lack depth of flavor; their primary advantage is that you can find them in the produce department year-round, while fresh NuMex chiles are only available in July and August.

              10 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                any idea on the flavor of the xxhots?
                Do they still retain the "green chile" flavor well, or are they just HOT? My csa guy has asked for a list of peppers for him to grow this year.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  The XX Hots smell good when they're being roasted, so presumably they have plenty of chile flavor if you can get past the heat. I can't.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I agree. Getting past the heat is impossible.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I think there's two kinds of heat I pick up from hot chile. One is the flamethrower type as in Thai chile. The other type is the long steady burn that intensifies like a piece of charcoal does as it gets whiter. I'm guessing some Hatch chiles will give you the latter?

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Absolutely. But, again, it depends on the strain.

                        2. re: rworange

                          That's a general issue with chiles. The hotter the chile, the harder it is for ordinary humans to detect flavors beyond the heat. That's why I prefer to use milder ones for flavor (especially the 'base' notes), and use small amounts of the hot ones to control the bite.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I think that habanero flesh has major flavor. Reminds me of juicy fruit gum for some reason. Once you remove the inner membranes to rid the chile of the major heat components, you get to taste the flesh's flavor.

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      That last paragraph helps a lot. I can sense the flavor profile now. The supers which carry Hatch (which I mentioned above) sell them around late summer/early fall. We like all sorts of chiles and we love roasting them on the bbq grill in particular, which Anaheims tend to be one of our recent favorites. Is this method pretty much acceptable for a Hatch-type chile?

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Absolutely. That's the standard first step in making anything with the chiles. You can use the roasted flesh as-is, or make it into a green chile sauce, or...