Hatch chile season is just around the corner and I cannot wait to fill my house with smoky smell of these meaty roasted New Mexico peppers. I still pursue every sale my local grocery stores have for sweet red peppers that remind me of late summers in Serbia and huge sacks of dark red capsicums littering the sidewalks, farmers markets, and back yards, destined to be turned into a dozen or so different preserves, relishes, and spreads.
But Hatch chiles, as new as they are in my pepper-obsessed world, bring me a sense of adventure and excitement. They are available for only a few weeks in August and September, and there are hordes of aficionados breathlessly awaiting their appearance. Some of them will be heading straight to Hatch, New Mexico, equipped with wooden crates, huge bags, and plenty of room in their trunks.
Just in time for the new season, hard-working folks from Melissa’s Produce released Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook. I was fortunate to be invited recently to their headquarters in Vernon, CA, for a luncheon and book promotion, where I met the authors, Chef Ida Rodrigez and Sharon Hernandez, co-owner of the company. Melissa’s talented chefs prepared fifteen dishes, most of which featured dried or frozen Hatch chiles.
What gives these chiles their celebrity status? Like Vidalia onions, they are grown in a small area with distinct micro-climate; in New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley days are hot and nights cold, which slows down the ripening process of the chiles and they mature to be meatier and tastier than many of their more famous cousins. They also range from mild to extremely hot, which makes them versatile and adaptable to any palate and taste. As I learned at Melissa’s, the taste of Hatch chiles is enhanced by roasting. And roasted, they can be frozen and preserved to be used throughout the year.
The new cookbook features 150 recipes, from cocktails, starters, main dishes, to desserts. Here are a few photos to give you an idea of different ways you can use Hatch chiles:
Hatch chile season officially starts on August 3th, when they first start appearing at the local grocery stores. Here is the schedule of Hatch chile roasting at Bristol Farms Stores in southern California:
Westchester Saturday August 17th 8:00am – 2:00pm 8448 Lincoln Blvd. Westchester, CA 90045
South Pasadena Saturday August 24th 8:00am – 2:00pm 606 Fair Oaks Ave. South Pasadena, CA 91030
Santa Monica Saturday August 24th 8:00am – 2:00pm *Live Broadcast with Chef Jet Tila from 10am – 12pm 3105 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403
Newport Beach Saturday August 31st 8:00am – 2:00pm 810 Avocado Ave. Newport Beach, CA 92660
La Jolla Saturday September 7th 8:00am – 2:00pm 8510 Genesee Ave. La Jolla, CA 92122
And Lazy Acres store in Long Beach will host the roasting August 17, 8:00 – 2:00 2080 Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90815
If you would like to roast your own chiles, follow these simple and thorough instructions from my friend Dorothy:
For more on Melissa’s Hatch Chili Cookbook luncheon and promotion, read these informative articles.