If you’re lucky enough to live in the Southwest then you know that Hatch chile season is going strong. Hatch chiles are grown in Hatch, New Mexico from Mid-August through the end of September. They are a delicious green chile that is quite a bit spicier than an Anaheim (which is pretty mild) but not as spicy as a jalapeño. The flavor is really fantastic and I was happy to get a bunch of them from my food co-op last week. I wouldn’t dream of eating a spicy pepper without roasting it; roasting adds a huge boost to the flavor. Once chiles are roasted they can be used in a recipe or frozen for later. Either way, roasting is a snap and worth the ten minutes of trouble. Most of the grocery stores around here have huge metal baskets tossing the Hatch chiles over a fire. It smells so fantastic. But in case your local shop doesn’t do it, here’s a tutorial on how to do it yourself. No need for a basket and an open fire, just a baking sheet and an oven. This method works for any type of pepper: poblano, jalapeño, even bell peppers.
When dealing with spicy peppers you must WEAR GLOVES!!! Surgical gloves, kitchen gloves, whatever. And don’t scratch your face while you’re prepping the peppers!
Your first step is to cut the peppers. You can cut the ends off first, a couple of inches down from the stem. Or you can slice the whole thing in half first. Either way is fine.
Just remember when slicing to do it along the edge so that the pepper lays as flat as possible once it’s cut.
The spiciest parts of the pepper are the seeds and veins. After you cut the peppers in half rinse the seeds down the drain . . .
. . . and slice most of the vein out. My kids are not big fans of spiciness! If you like your food spicier, you can leave them on.
Preheat your oven broiler to 500º. While its heating grab a baking sheet and cover it with tin foil. (Scrubbing dishes is for chumps! Always line your pans!) Place your chiles with the skins facing up.
You want your peppers to lay as flat as possible so they brown evenly. If they are bulgy, press them down with your fingers until they break and stay flat-ish.
Put your peppers in the oven as close to the heating element as possible. You want these babies to get black! You won’t eat the skins, they taste gross; but the smoky roasted flavor permeates the flesh underneath.
If you feel like they are burning, then you’re doing it right. These look kind of burny but they’re not done yet!
Ah, that’s better. Black=flavor so don’t be a ninny and take them out too soon.
If you’re going to use them today, let the peppers cool for about a minute then put them in a ziploc bag. The steam from the peppers will help loosen the skins. If you have a whole bunch that you’d like to use later, freezing them is a great idea. You’ll put them in a ziplock with the skins on and toss them in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use the peppers (whether they’ve just come out of the oven or you’ve defrosted some), you’ll need to peel off the burnt skin and throw it away. The easiest way to do this is to grab the pepper in one hand and the skin in the other and, while holding both sides under running water, pull them apart.
Now you have a lovely and delicious hunk of pepper all ready to be diced up and added to any recipe that needs a little spicing up!