Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Roasted Hatch Chilies

It's that MOST, won-der-ful tiiiiiime, of the year.....

It's Hatch Chili Pepper season and usually here in DC we get screwed on the deal: in the past we've smuggled them out of Texas by checking a case of them in as luggage...much to the strange stares of everyone.

But this year I FOUND some at Whole Foods and quickly swiped most of them up, screwing anyone else that might want some. So you may be asking, "Lou, what's so special about these Hatch Chilies?"

Well, it's a terroir thing: they only come from Hatch, New Mexico and there's something in the heat, soil, handling of Anaheim peppers there that turn them into Hatch Chilies. They're hot yet buttery smooth and form the foundation of all good things needing chili peppers. From enchiladas to scrambled eggs these things add that extra something special.

But before they can be eaten they must be roasted, and that's why we're here today.

Roasting Hatch Chilies, or any pepper for that matter, is pretty simple. You can do this in an oven, over a gas stove, or the real tasty way by over a raging fire. The fire is preferred because what you want to do is get the peppers to sear and blister; the skin of the pepper isn't too pleasant on the palate. Also, roasting them bring out their great flavors.

Wash the peppers first and get a kitchen towel that's soaked and squeezed damp in water. You'll need one towel per 10 peppers. Set up a little workstation as such:

With the fire now raging in the grill, put your peppers on. They'll start to pop and smoke up a bit almost immediately. You want to char these little bastards pretty good but not cook them through. All you're really trying to do is get the skins off. They're going to blacken pretty good but there will be some peppers - notably the curved ones - that just won't fully blacken in some parts. Don't force the matter because you'll wind up cooking it through instead.

When nicely toasted, place the peppers in the center of the damp towel and fold the towel over them in thirds. Soon you'll see steam coming off the towel and the smell of fresh roasted peppers will fill the air...even if you're outside. Allow the peppers to cool to room temperature underneath the towel. Start your next batch if you've got 'em.

When done, you can use the peppers immediately or store for later use. Prior to using the peppers you'll need to remove the skins, which should come just right off. If storing, put anywhere from 2 - 6 peppers in a Ziplock bag (skins on), remove as much air as possible, and freeze until you're ready.


  1. Ed Ward introduced me to Hatch chilis in 1987. "HELLO!" I turned Lou on as soon as I learned that he would take over this laborious process, and I could just sit in a chair and drink beer.

    We've ordered alleged "Hatch chili" seeds from seed companies - and we ended up growing Anaheims. So to do it right, they've got to be imported from New Mexico...but they're worth every bit of CO2 that puts in the air!

  2. of course, the best way to get your Hatch Chili fix in Austin is to go to Chuy's... get your patooties down here, quick! [and let me know next year, I'll ship you some if you get desperate.] :)