8.25.2012

Hatch Green Chile Season Descends on SoCal

For six very short weeks, spanning from August to September, green chiles native only to the Hatch Valley of New Mexico make their way into giant burlap sacks and venture out into the world for public consumption.  Hatch green chiles are bold and packed with flavor.  They add a unique, smoky, almost fruity, peppery punch to any dish.  They are full of vitamin C, calcium, iron and an impressive array of other vitamins and minerals critical to normal body function.  But most importantly, they are TASTY!  Why else would an entire New Mexico town dedicate an entire weekend just to celebrate these peppers?

Growing up in Texas, I was a jalapeño girl.  I liked hot.  The more seeds the better and I wasn't happy unless my eyes were watering and my tongue was toasted.  I'd never even heard of Hatch or green chiles until I met Matt and was served the most delicious bowl of stew by his mother early on in the relationship.  I was sold.  Instantly.  On Matt.  On his mom.  On green chiles.  Where could I possibly get my hands on this perfect ingredient?  In years past, I have merely been a green chile mooch.  I would graciously accept a frozen Ziploc full of the charred green goodness when offered from family members in-the-know.  And if Matt and I were really lucky, we'd be treated to even more piping hot bowls of green chile stew while visiting with relatives in December.

Luck shifted this year when Matt happened to spy a small printed announcement in our weekly Albertsons advertising flier.


The Hatch chiles are coming to California!  The closest store was an hour away, but I was determined to get my own 30 lb burlap sack of green chiles.

On the morning of August 11, we woke up early and drove to the Albertsons in Reseda, CA.  The line was already wrapped around the corner of the store with eager housewives, chefs, and families leaning on their carts full of 2, 3, 4, some even had 6 sacks of chiles waiting to be roasted.  Matt and I purchased our one bag of chiles and two bottles of water to help keep us hydrated in the impending heat.  Then we patiently took our place in line to wait to have the chiles roasted.



 Extra Hot.  Now we're talkin'!




While waiting in line, we had plenty of time to read the instructions for preparation and frozen storage.


It was hot enough standing in the sun, but the heat from the roasters easily added another layer of sizzle to those nearing the front of the line.  I lost count of how many times those queued around us made the joke "it's so hot out here, these peppers are going to roast themselves."  Ha ha.  Too many times is all I know.


After a little over an hour wait, it was our turn to get roasted!  From what I have heard, the line can take up to five or six hours and the store usually runs out of green chiles by 10 am.  At which point, Matt and I would've gotten back in the car and placed an order on Amazon for a jar of green chiles while we drove back home.  Lucky for us, that was not the case.  My car was fully permeated with the smoky smell of fresh roasted Hatch green chiles.


We made a pit stop at my mother-in-law's to divvy up the roasted chile peppers... completely necessary as Matt and I are both eager to chow down on her delicious green chile stew once this desert heat finally breaks and temperatures begin to drop.  The remainder of the chiles returned home with us and were divided into serving size bags and placed into the freezer for future consumption. 


 I'm thinking we didn't get enough.  Next year - TWO burlap sacks!


First item on the green chile menu - hamburgers!  Followed by green chile and pork meatballs.  Then a roast with green chiles thrown in.  Then they'll show up on top of my breakfast eggs.

Uh oh.  Definitely two sacks next year!





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