Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Hatch is back in town

They come from New Mexico. They're green. They're hot. They might cause you to act strangely, especially if you just fry some up and eat them straight. You probably won't glow in the dark, but then some things are found out after the fact.

Sorry to disappoint, but I'm talking about chilis, not LGMs. They're grown about 218 miles from Roswell, a drive that would take the average human a bit over four hours. The average ET could probably do a lot better than this, if he/she/it existed. Unlikely that an escaped alien from Epsilon Eridani 3 would bother heading toward Hatch when it could head West, sell movie rights for megabucks in Hollywood, retire in Zzyx, start a pedigreed targ ranch and live happily ever after.

You get a choice with these peppers. Hot, medium or mild. Choose hot. The others are wimpier. If you want a mild chili, you can always eat a bell pepper. Heat is part of life; bite into it, savor the burn, note how well it works with an icy cold beer.

There's not a lot of sweet in a Hatch chili. More an earthy, acid bite with a lot of chili flavor. They're easy to sear and freeze, or you can make ristras and be festive all year. Dried, they have a fruity aroma while frozen peppers maintain their acid.

Don't limit yourself to chile verde, just because these are chilis and they happen to be green (unless you dry them). They can be pre-cooked and put on pizza or in calzones with some goat cheese and garlic. The photo above is a variation of chile verde used as a pan sauce where the meat is braised, removed, the sauce reduced, butter added and the meat returned. I might try chiles en nogada, swapping pasillas for Hatch peppers. Probably less heat with the Hatches, too. Then there's Hatch tempura, salmon with chili sauce, chili-marinated chicken, pan-fried chili with shrimp... Good thing they sell the things by the case. Too bad that like that special offer on late-night TV, they're here for a limited time and then they're gone for another year.

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