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Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:16 pm

So I'm back from eclipse watching at the path of totality in Oregon plus four bonus days camping on Mt. Ranier, and I arrive home laden with three cases of Hatch green chiles. Locating and buying what I wanted was a bitch this year.

Before leaving on our trip I noticed that Haggens, who had made a big deal of them in past years, didn't even put up a special display. And Fred Meyer appeared to have none. So I phoned my local Whole Foods Market and got a man who identified himself as the brand new produce manager. He had no idea what a Hatch green chile was and was illiterate about heat levels and when I tried to explain why Hatch chiles are a significant event he responded condescendingly like I'd tried to show him pictures of my grandchildren. (Btw, I have no grandchildren.)

So I called another Whole Foods close to Seattle that previously went all-out on Hatch chiles. The produce guy seemed super knowlegeable, said that it had been a difficult year in Hatch, that the mediums had all got 'burnt' and only milds and xtra-hots were available so far and mediums probably wouldn't come in at all. Oh, and all were tasting above their typical Scoville level. He'd only received xtra hots.

Then we left on our trip. I figured I'd have time to call around while away and round up some chiles somewhere. Randomly, I called a QFC store that I remembered seeing chiles at in the past and they told me oh yes, they have Hatch chiles--and they're all mediums. His price was .99 cents/lb but if I bought cases his price was $20 for a 25 lb case. Cool, and I had him set aside two cases for me, but why does QFC only have mediums?

So I found a phone number for a green chile farmer and online merchant in Hatch, NM, and asked for the scoop: this isn't a mild year like last year, she said, but the medium class didn't get 'burnt' and all are tasting fairly true to the heat levels expected of their varieties.

On our way from Corvallis where we'd seen the Eclipse and Mt. Ranier, our next camping destination, Bob and I stopped at a Safeway. They had a big pile of Hatch chiles, but only milds. And get this: 50 cents a pound. But it was too early, I had no place to store them, so I wasn't buying but I did buy four chiles to roast that night and test for heat. Verdict: two spicy, one extra spicy (for a mild) and one with no heat whatsoever. Totally inconclusive except to say I'd -probably be happy with the milds.

So then Mt. Ranier's done and I'm on the phone looking for chiles to buy on the way home. I find a Safeway in Tacoma with two cases of milds, GREAT. We go there. And when I get there they have a tiny dish on display labelled Anaheim chiles and want $2.49 per lb. I tell them they were .50 at Kelso. The produce lady looked at me like I had two heads. I say I'm not paying 2.49, get a manager. Well, the Manager isn't in so there's nothing she can do. Exasperated, I say surely someone's been left in charge and I'll go find him or her myself. And I did. And that guy says he can't help what a store in another county does so forget him matching Kelso's price, and gets on the phone to locate the real Produce Dept manager at home to find out that the correct store price for Hatch chiles is $1.49/lb so yeah they'd blown it, but she told him to tell me that "Anaheims taste just the same". And of course, that really lit me off. The lecture that inspired included a demand that they provide a case discount like everybody else does because of course there would be a certain amount of discard and that should be factored into their price. "For that reason QFC gives case discounts, Whole Foods gives case discounts, but you don't?" No.

What kept me from walking out, besides time, was that they thought these cases were 20 lbs where they were probably 25 so I was actually going to get a 20% discount even if they didn't intend it.

And then I went to the QFC I'd called days ago and bought a case of mediums after pinching off the end of one and finding it in fact quite mild. (A few years ago, a case of mediums I'd bought ate more like xtra hots and we basically tossed them out after the fact, so I know to test first.)

So that's my long sad story, and I feel better now. :) Chile roasting party today: I'm doing tacos featuring a fat slice of roast pork shoulder with oregano-marinated green chiles and cheese. Also, for snacking chips and a fresh green salsa, and a shrimp escabeche. Guests are bringing a pot of beans, a slaw, desserts, and tequila-based cocktails. Everyone will go home with chiles.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:06 pm

An exasperating jeremiad but it's my imagination that it is always this way with specialty produce... "I've got them", "No, he's got them", "4 for $2", "3 for $2.50", "17/4 for $3.14", blah blah blah. :wink:
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:13 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:An exasperating jeremiad but it's my imagination that it is always this way with specialty produce... "I've got them", "No, he's got them", "4 for $2", "3 for $2.50", "17/4 for $3.14", blah blah blah. :wink:


The price differences didn't bother me so much as Safeway's refusal to offer, as is fairly standard in the industry, a case discount. Oh, that and their produce manager wanting me to know, no doubt dripping with condescension, that Hatch chiles are the same as Anaheims. She should be fired for that.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Buitenhuys

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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Buitenhuys » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:55 pm

Glad you got some after all of that!
I just got a few pounds at a local restaurant. They are set up with a tumbler roaster so you put in your order and they roast them up for you while you wait. By the time I got home they were ready to peel and clean. Omelets with gc's tonight. GC cheeseburgers on Friday, and a bunch packed up for the freezer. They also were listed as "mild" but the tastes I've had so far carry a good amount of heat...and lots of that delightful flavor! Love this time of year!
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:49 am

Are some chiles coming to the rib-off?
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:03 pm

Chiles.jpg
Chile Roast 2017
Chiles.jpg (49.13 KiB) Viewed 804 times
Bill, if you were thinking they would be in my potato salad, these are a different kind of chile. I could bring some if you'd like to taste them. In fact, here's an offer: I'll make breakfast. Meanwhile, here's what 75 pounds of green chiles looks like (in the rinse-and-cull stage). And it was a pretty nice day to be working outside!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:14 pm

Bill Buitenhuys wrote:Glad you got some after all of that!
I just got a few pounds at a local restaurant. They are set up with a tumbler roaster so you put in your order and they roast them up for you while you wait. By the time I got home they were ready to peel and clean. Omelets with gc's tonight. GC cheeseburgers on Friday, and a bunch packed up for the freezer. They also were listed as "mild" but the tastes I've had so far carry a good amount of heat...and lots of that delightful flavor! Love this time of year!


Bill, I've always preferred mediums. Big Jims have been my favorite--I know there are several varieties that are considered mediums--sometimes the boxes are stamped with the variety name, and sometimes just heat level. Then three years ago my mediums were absolutely incendiary. Didn't enjoy them at all, and I finally tossed them out and started over next season. No longer trusting, I bought several heat levels to try at home and found the milds about as spicy as the mediums, and prettier (fleshier) overall so that's what I bought. I'd always avoided the milds thinking they'd taste like the super-mild Anaheims I grew up on, but that's certainly not the case from Hatch.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:32 pm

Jenise wrote:
Chiles.jpg
Bill, if you were thinking they would be in my potato salad, these are a different kind of chile. I could bring some if you'd like to taste them. In fact, here's an offer: I'll make breakfast.


Wow! You don't do things by half do you?

I was planning to make breakfast but have a hard time turning down any invitation to have you cook if you feel up to it after doing ribs, so will gracefully (and gratefully) accept!

I do know about \the Hatch chiles but we don't get a reliable supply here - usually only Whole Foods at a couple of bucks a pound, and maybe none this year based on your experience.
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:58 pm

This will be a very Southwestern/American breakfast. A slab of fried mush with chorizo (I just made a loaf) topped with a fried egg and that topped with marinated green chiles. Buttered corn tortillas on the side. Might require bubbly. :)
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:08 pm

Jenise wrote: Might require bubbly. :)


Don't have any Gruet, which would be more suitable to the locale of the cuisine, but can supply a local equivalent.
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:08 pm

That will work!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Buitenhuys » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:17 pm

So this past Hatch chile infused weekend included papas con huevos smothered in roasted chile, cheddar/chile omelet, and a med-rare ribeye covered in rajas con crema. I think I'll lay off them for a week or so to let my stomach lining recover a bit.

Jenise, I checked the boxes at the local grocery store and they were just marked "medium" or "hot". You are so right, NM green chile has to be tasted to get the spice level nailed.
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:33 pm

Bill, good for you! So far we've had chili verde, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches (we call our favorite/standard, the 'Pablo Goldstein'--roasted chiles and American cheese on Jewish deli rye), and fried chorizo-polenta cake topped with fried egg and chiles. Loving the mix of the milds and mediums I got. Interestingly, the two boxes of milds, seen on the back two tables in my photo, from the same farm, were quite different. The one on the left was over half red, and all the reds were not just sweeter as one expects and appreciates but spicier. For anyone not familiar with Hatch chiles--in a usual 25 lb box at best maybe only one chile out of 15 or so is red. The mediums were milder. So it all averaged out--I bag the chiles in lots of about four, depending on their size: that works out for two burgers or two of the aforementioned Pablo Goldsteins.

Yesterday we put out our traps and caught 10 Dungeness crab. I feel some crab and green chile enchiladas coming on!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:43 am

Excellent, Jenise!! Ya, those red ones can be tricky. I found that in this batch, the red ones (I only had 2 out of 30 or so chiles) had much tougher/thicker skin that took some careful peeling to remove. Pablo Goldstein sounds like he might have to make an appearance at my house soon!
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Paul Winalski » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:00 pm

Our local Whole Foods has both red and green Hatch chiles. They said they are mild ones.

I've never cooked with Hatch chiles before. Are they just meant to be dried, or can you use them fresh, too?

-Paul W.
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:05 pm

No, don't dry them! We never do that. I roast them, pull out the stem/seed pod, and freeze them in little baggies of four each. 2-4 is a personal serving, depending on what one's doing with them. Two to a burger or grilled cheese as a rule. Or with eggs or anything else you might think of. But they should be considered a principal ingredient vs. a seasoning like a serrano. They're about the full green pepper flavor, not just heat. And that's why I like the milder heat, so I can eat more chile without overloading. If I want more heat, then I can supplement and even add complexity with cayenne or something.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by wnissen » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:25 pm

Man, there was a roasting session at my local Safeway but they are done for the year in Northern California. I should keep an eye out, they were doing them first week of August and I just missed them. Mollie Stone's is doing them in the peninsula this weekend for folks out there.
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Hoke » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:00 pm

Good saga!

Apropos of nothing but being a fan of Hatch Chilies, one of our secret guilty pleasures is Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese with Hatch peppers. It's mild; it's delicious, and it's damn near perfect with sausages (chorizo).
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Re: Hatch green chile season again!

by Jenise » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:52 pm

Hoke, I've not seen that. Admittedly, I don't buy much prepared food, but when planning for camping trips I do shop for a few quick and easy solutions and something like that would fit the bill perfectly.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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