It’s getting to be THE MOST WONDERFUL TiiiME of the Year! 🎶 (Sing it with me!)
Back to school time? Well, yeah, sure, if you have kids that would run a close second to this, but no, not exactly what I was thinking.
Christmas, then? Um….what? No, not yet, silly.
Pumpkin spice latte season? Ooooooo, that does sound good and you are definitely getting closer but NO! No! Wrong on all counts because any green chile fan the world over knows that the end of summer/start of fall signals one thing and one thing only and that could be nothing other than…
Hatch Green Chile Harvest Time!!!!!!!!! Yaaaaaaay! (the crowd roars!)
Oh, wait. You have no idea what I am talking about? Oh baby, then hang out here with me for a bit and let me school ya on the fine art of the most perfect piquant pepper to come out of the great Southwest; namely, the famous Hatch New Mexico Green Chile. Once considered a regional delicacy requiring travel to Santa Fe to partake of, Hatch green chile can be found just about anywhere in just about everything these days. Thanks in part to celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay (and me….hahah, just kidding) and savvy grocers like Whole Foods and Lucky’s Markets (just to name a few) who now actually carry them seasonally, you can get your hands on Hatch green chile just about anywhere you live.
Complete and total SCORE!!!!!!
But there is a catch……..
You gotta wait for the late summer harvest because things this good don’t just come along every day…….I am talking FRESH chile here…..not the crap in a can (throw that OUT….NOW). These guys are just super scorcery to your senses, that is all I can say. The best combination of flavor and heat and meaty like vegetal goodness. So if you happen to come across an odd looking, oblong, super sized, shiny green pepper in the produce section of your local grocery store, don’t be afraid! Grab yourself a pack of peppers……take ’em home…..make some magic. Start with this super easy sauce.
To begin……….fire up the grill. You gotta roast these babies first. It’s the law, okay? I promise it’s going to be worth it.
Place your chile straight up onto a hot grill and flip them around every few minutes or so until they char up nicely for you. Be careful, the heat can make them inflate and “pop” at you……be sure to stand back a little. Keep an eye on things for this step……..you don’t want to burn these guys. This should only take about ten minutes, depending on the intensity of your grill.
Pop the charred chiles into a bowl (make sure it is glass or plastic, no metal, please) and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. This action will create a sauna room effect that will help you help them strip down! Let them do their steamy thing for at least 45 minutes or so. They will be fine just hanging out like that until they cool down so leave them to it…….
and then…..the papery skin should slip right off……how do you like that? Pop off the stem and scrape out the seeds while you’re at it. You’ll end up with the beautiful flesh of the pepper. Go ahead and give it a chop, but take heed…………..
……chile peppers contain capsaicin, which is what gives them their heat, and we love that, but it can be potent stuff. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider wearing gloves when you handle the peeling process of a chile…..however if you, like me, are impervious to these sort of things then at the very least…..DON’T GO STICKING YOUR FINGER INTO YOUR EYE, (or any other sensitive place, you know what I’m saying…..) after handling these guys. This. Is. No. Joke.
Enough said there. On to the sauce!
Finely dice half of an onion and toss it into a sauce pan with a few glugs of olive oil. Stir this around over a medium high heat for about five minutes, letting the onion get nice and soft and carmalized. Get yourself one garlic clove, peel it up and give it a nice fine chop as well. Toss that in and give it a stir for only a minute or so…..garlic is touchy and likes to burn, so before you let that happen plop in a couple of roughly chopped fresh tomatoes to cool everybody down and get to mixing and mingling. A teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of salt and you are on your way.
Now this is looking pretty delectably edible already! Well, you’re about to mess that up because you need to sprinkle in about two teaspoons of flour. Just stir this in and around your veggies to cook it up a little bit. DO not panic when this step causes your lovely mirepoix (a fancy word for a medley of chopped sautéed vegetables) to turn into this:
…floury mushy mess. This is exactly what you want. Just stir it up and let this cook for another 2 – minutes; this is what will thicken your sauce and give that chile something to hold on to. Now stir in a cup or so of broth of your choice, using a whisk to smooth things out. Keep stirring and let this come up to a gentle bubble, it should thicken up nicely as you go.
Stir in some of that chopped green chile. Oh, yeah! Now chiles are like people in that some are spicy and some are mild….some are right there in between. Only you and your particular batch of chile can decide how much goes into your sauce. I used about a cup of it, but my chile was very mild. The idea is a mellow, sorta sexy deep heat…..not a crazy screaming mouthful of pain. Yikes.
Pain has never tasted good to me; let your chile and your taste buds be your guide.
And there you have it! Simple, yet anything but basic green chile sauce. Oh, the things that you can do with what will become your new addiction…………
Put it over eggs….
Slather grilled chicken with it…..
Roll it up with some shredded cheese in a tortilla…..
Add some meat and potatoes to it to make it into a stew…..
Ladle it over cooked spaghetti squash, give it a dusting of parmesan and a healthy sprinkle of chopped cilantro…..
and on and on
You’ll understand once you try it. The end of summer will never ever be the same.
- Fresh Hatch green chile*
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons flour
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth (possibly more)**
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional, but recommended!)
- Olive oil
- Place the raw chile over a hot grill and turn every minute or so, until all the sides are charred. Avoid burning the chile black. You can do this under the broiler in an oven but an outdoor grill is your best bet here. Continue turning and roasting until chiles are charred on as many "sides" as possible, removing to a plastic bowl as the chiles are done. They may POP on you as they expand, just stand back and be careful. The smell alone makes it worth it. Once all the charred chiles are in the bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and allow the chiles to "steam" until they cool down. They can be left for a few hours or as little as 45 minutes.
- Once the chiles are cool enough to handle, the papery skin should slip right off. Remove the seeds and the stem. Chop the chile, set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, heat approximately 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (just eyeball it). Add the chopped onion and cook over a media high heat for 5 - 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent and very slightly browned. Add the chopped garlic and stir around for only a minute or so to avoid burning. Add the chopped tomatoes,cumin, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper and stir and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the flour to this and give it a stir. The flour will cause everything to gum up into a sort of a paste, and that is just fine. Stir and cook this paste for another minute or so, being careful not to burn anything, then add the broth using a whisk to incorporate the flour, and smooth out any lumps. Bring this to a slight bubble, and check for seasonings.
- Add as much or as little chopped green chile as you like (freeze anything you may have leftover for future use...you will be glad you did). This will depend on the heat of your particular chile and your taste buds. I added about a cup but my chile was pretty mild.
- Stir in the chopped fresh cilantro and you've got green chile sauce.
- Put this over just about anything you can think of!
- *As is typical in New Mexico, you will want to get as much green chile as you can reasonably carry off because once the season is over, it's over. Char and peel all of your haul, freeze any unused chile for later use. You will be so glad to pull it out of the freezer!
- **Keep this 100% vegetarian by using vegetable stock