My First Hatch Chile Experience

Disclaimer: This post is part of Heinen’s campaign. I was given a gift card and cookbook in exchange for a post about Hatch Chiles. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own.

A few years ago I noticed people on social media talking about Hatch Chile season and I had no idea what they were talking about. Then last year I noticed Hatch Chiles at my local Heinen’s and inspected them with curiosity but never bought any. This year it was time to change that and try this seasonally celebrated food.
HatchAtHeinensHatch Chiles are grown only in Hatch, New Mexico and have short harvest season. The unique soil and growing conditions give the chile a complex flavor and culinary versatility that has produced a cult-like following. Tens of thousands of people make the trip to the fields of Hatch each year to take part in Hatch Chile festivals. Lucky for us, we just have to travel to the closest Heinen’s to take part in this annual taste tradition.

There are hot and mild varieties and I stuck to the mild. You can get them fresh and roast them yourself or buy them already roasted by the Heinen’s crew. I opted for this shortcut method although there are all kinds of instructions for roasting them at home, both indoors and out. Want to really get into the experience? Order a case from Heinen’s then watch them being roasted for you! This weekend is the final weekend for Hatch roasts at Heinen’s – roasts will be happening on September 11, 12 & 13 at the Mayfield Village (OH) store and the Barrington (IL) store.

If you are trying something new, incorporating it into a familiar thing is always the way to go. So the Hatch Chile Cornbread was my first recipe:
1 cup AP flour
¾ cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup melted butter
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup roasted Hatch chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped (about 1 chile)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a square pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt). In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and butter. Add the wet mix to the dry mix all at once. Stir just until moistened (do NOT over stir!). Gently fold in the cheese and chopped Hatch chiles.

Pour into pan and make for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting into squares. Best consumed warm (if you’re me, while hovering over the kitchen sink!)
Recipe from Melissa’s Produce Hatch Chile Cookbook

You could likely shortcut this by stirring the ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and ½ cup chopped roasted Hatch chiles into a box of Jiffy Cornbread mix, too! A super easy way to spice up a weeknight meal.

Now that I had my first taste of Hatch Chiles I wanted more. Time for an entrée!

Chicken Chile Empanadas
Recipe from Melissa’s Produce Hatch Chile Cookbook

1 cup cooked chicken, dicked
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
4 roasted Hatch chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1-lb package froze puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix together the chicken, cheese, Hatch Chiles, garlic, cumin and salt. Refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to assemble the empanadas (can be done up to one day in advance).

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll to a ¼ inch thickness. Use a 5-inch biscuit cutter (or bowl, or large drinking glass) to cut out circles of dough. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture on the center of each round. Lightly brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold the dough in half, forming a half moon. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.

Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with the salt a pepper. Bake until golden brow, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

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All I can say is that I am a fan. The chiles are sweet and smoky with a pleasant bitterness. The flavor is deep and complex with a unique earthiness; not as bright as a poblano, not as fiery as a jalapeno. Get yourself to Heinen’s and get some before they are gone!

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