Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Menu Planning & Cooking
Our Hatch Chile Quest Continues…
At the end of my last post, we had been frustrated in our quest to obtain a case of fresh roasted Hatch, NM chiles by arriving after every store had sold out for the day. But we were determined! After all, the most common question in any New Mexico restaurant is “Red or green?” Diners must select the type of chile sauce they would like on top of their meal. The only other appropriate response is “Christmas”, which leads to your meal being topped with a combination of red AND green sauce. We had discovered nearly a dozen years ago that we were both “green” lovers. So the opportunity to make some of this delectable sauce from the genuine article, to have for use in our home at our meals, was very appealing.
Our neighbor started us on this mission by coming home with 25 lbs of chiles and giving us a quart sized freezer bag to try. Our appetite whetted, we soon went in search of more chiles, realizing a quart would not get us through the winter and we wanted them to last. The one decision that stumped us was whether to get mild, medium, hot or extra hot chiles.
Initially we purchased a quantity of medium chiles, but noted that when they were cooked in stew or sauce, they still left our tongues burning. (My mouth actually felt a bit raw after one meal!) I guess we just are not used to the real thing, as those standing in line ahead of us at the store waiting for their peppers to be roasted (a process which takes about 15-20 minutes per sack) had purchased hot and extra hot chiles as the medium ones had proved too mild for them. Feeling a bit wimpish, we eventually purchased a case of mild chiles.
Our neighbor also showed us the trick of easy peeling. She advised us to zip the hot, freshly roasted chiles tightly in the freezer bag and leave them for about 30 minutes. After that time, when you open the bag, the skins can be stripped off reasonably easily, though the ease does have something to do with how well they are roasted.
Arriving home with our own case of chiles, we had our work cut out for us. We sealed them in large freezer bags to sit and when they were ready, tackled them with gusto! It took about half hour to develop a rhythm, but soon Terry and I were both humming along. Peeling them was the first step, then the top is sliced off and the chile is slit down one side. This allows you to scrape out the seeds (we also found it helped to rinse them in cool water to eliminate most or all of the seeds). They were then packaged for immediate use or freezing. Our smallish freezer is now loaded with 1 to 1.5 pound bags of cleaned chiles, ready for use whenever we need them. And, we fully intend to throw a bag or two in the freezer of the camper to accompany us on every trip we take as they cook up quite easily. Delicious! That same day we made a batch of green chile sauce, which we enjoyed on many meals that week, and a crock pot green chile stew that was heavenly! This is a tradition we will be enjoying every year.
New Mexico is an enchanting place to visit and fall is a lovely time to do so. Plan to come next fall to pick up your own Hatch chiles. To locate your home-away-from-home for your trip, browse Woodall’s listings of New Mexico Campgrounds.
Coming soon: A Recipe for Traditional New Mexico Green Chile Sauce that You Can Make in Your Camper!