Spicy Hatch chiles are a Fall favorite in the Southwest. You can’t go wrong with your choice to either roast them for salsas or stuffing them whole with meat and vegetables. This Hatch Chile Guide walks you through preparing, storing, and serving them. Read along as this will continue to be updated with new recipes and tips.
The Famous Hatch Chiles
Hatch green chiles come out and play during the Fall season in the American Southwest. These seasonal chiles come from Hatch Valley in southern New Mexico, creating a passionate fan base throughout the state, Texas, Arizona, and southern California. Every year the reach seems to grow a little more, with online producers able to ship out the Hatch chiles across the country.
New Mexico hosts an annual Hatch Chile Festival, drawing in 30,000+ people to their tiny town for the celebration. These are a big deal! The big debate is typically choosing between Hatch red chiles or Hatch green chiles, which do have different flavors. The red tends to create a heat that lingers in the back of the throat, where the green is more crisp and sharp with heat up front.
There are many varieties of Hatch Chile Peppers. Red and green aren’t the only choices, there are other characteristics such as heath, pungency, and size that vary as well. Read here if you’d like to learn more about the different varieties.
How to Prepare Hatch Chiles
Hatch chiles seem to be growing in popularity, exposing themselves to many new home cooks every year. The biggest question I always see is “now what do I do with them”?
You can certainly use them as-is, but to bring out the special buttery flavor that they are known for, roasting them is the key. Grilling them over high heat for a few minutes blisters the skin just enough that it will peel off, giving you the soft chiles to use for salsas, queso, toppings, stews, and so much more.
Roasting Hatch chiles happens to be the best way to prepare large batches for storage. Skinned and seeded, the chiles freeze extremely well for months at a time, allowing you to enjoy them throughout the winter. That’s if you don’t eat them all immediately. Just go buy extra.
You do not have to roast the chiles! Try out this Hatch Chile Rellenos recipe, using fresh chiles.
Roasting and Storing Hatch Chiles
The key is direct, high heat. You can even throw them directly in the coals if you want, but if you’re cooking up a big batch the grill or the oven will be the best options. Chiles are usually full of dirt, so make sure you rinse them well first.
- How to grill Hatch chiles: Heat up your grill, charcoal or gas, to a high heat similar to searing steaks around 450F. Make sure your grill is clean, and place the hatch chiles directly over the heat. They will blister, so rotate them as needed until each side has been charred.
- How to broil Hatch chiles: Place the chiles on a baking sheet in the oven using the broiler setting – about 6 inches away from the broiler element – roasting until the skin blisters and becomes charred on all sides. You will need to watch closely and flip the chiles after a few minutes.
- Once the skin is evenly charred, place the hot chiles in a plastic bag, or sealed container. This allows them to sweat and steam, loosening up the skin.
- Put on a pair of plastic gloves. After about 15 minutes have passed, you may take the chiles out and gently peel off the skin, removing the tops and the seeds.
Do NOT wash the chiles with water. This removes the natural oils and juices from the Hatch chiles and will reduce the flavor.
Storing them is very simple and they will last for months in the freezer. There are always a few tips for success so here we go:
- Remove the skin, stem, and seeds before you freeze. It’s a huge mess when you thaw them out and have to attempt to clean them if you don’t. Trust me.
- Cool off the chiles before you store them. Warm chiles can grow bacteria. Set them on paper towels to pat them dry, and place them in a sealed freezer bag or vacuum-sealed bag before going into the freezer.
- Remove air from the bags. Vacuum-sealing is ideal, but if you’re using a zipped plastic bag you’ll want to press out as much air as possible before storing, even in the fridge.
- They do not last long in the fridge. Chiles have a lot of moisture and will go bad within 3-5 days in your fridge. They thaw easily and should be used quickly once thawed.
Recipes that use Hatch Chiles
You’ve roasted them, now you need to use them! Here are a few recipes you can use with the fresh hatch green chiles. I will continue to add more over time, providing you a lot of options: