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Hatch Chiles Are in Season!

Chiles

This week and next, here in Austin and at other locations around the Lone Star State, our Central Market stores will be holding their annual salute to that long, green (and sometimes red) delicacy, the Hatch chile: The Hatch Chile Festival.

The Texas version of this celebration is quite an extravaganza. From demonstrations of recipes to flamethrower roasting of hundreds of pounds of chiles at a time, there’s a real sense of excitement and fun. Central Market’s employees always do a great job of “getting ready” for this affair.

The Hatch chile (don’t mistake’em for an Anaheim) is a versatile fruit, and comes in a range of pungency from very mild to medium scorch. Roasting mellows the zing just a bit; more importantly, roasting improves the chiles’ storage potential. They can be kept in the freezer for months after roasting. Also, you can rub off the skins after roasting, leaving behind tender, juicy, tasty flesh with no tough shell.

What can you do with the Hatch? Pretty much anything, actually. Slice, dice, chop, purée, or stuff’em; it’s all good. Soups, stews, chile verde (of course), casseroles, side dishes; even appetizers and desserts. My wife likes to make pesto for pasta from these virescent beauties.

Central Market hosts a recipe challenge around this festival, and they also compile submissions into a cookbook. Submit your try! And if you’d rather try recipes designed by others, there will be plenty of offerings each day.

In honor of this fun annual fling, here’s a recipe that I use the venerable Hatch chile in whenever I can get my hands on some:

No, I didn’t invent this one. Chef Grady Spears (of Reata Restaurant fame) up in Fort Worth deserves all the credit. (If you’re up that way, check out his eating establishments, Dutch’s over near TCU, and Lambert’s Steak, Seafood and Whiskey.) This is Texas Cowboy food at its finest! Don’t be shy about the plebian grits; you can always call it polenta if you need to up the snoot factor…

Enjoy the (Cowboy) Heat!

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