Forget Christmas; hatch chile season is really the most wonderful time of the year.
Throughout the month of August, the air across Texas and New Mexico will be thick with smoke, streaming out from roasters cranking at full bore all hours of the day. As chiles tumble over the flames, their skin blistering and crackling like fireworks, they quickly char to a matte black finish. Intoxicating aromas assault the senses, so intense that you can practically taste it from a mile away.
You’ll mark you calendar by it too, once you get a bite of those freshly roasted beauties; earthy, smoky, and with a subtle, smoldering spice.
What’s So Special About Hatch Chiles?
The relatively short growing window gives them an air of exclusivity, drawing in crowds clamoring to get their fill. What sets them apart from other peppers is their delicate balance of flavor and heat. Not so spicy that they’ll send you running for dairy-free milk, it’s more of a subtle, smoldering burn that gradually builds over time. According to the Scoville scale, they typically clock in between 1,500 and 2,500 units, which is roughly comparable to poblano or Anaheim peppers.
While you can eat them raw, it’s not recommended; roasting them completely removes the initially harsh, bitter notes by caramelizing the natural sugars, transforming the flesh into a silky, smoky treat.
How Can You Cook With Hatch Chiles?
Given the opportunity, load up your freezer with a few pounds of freshly roasted chiles to enjoy their unique flavor all year round. People go wild for the green fruits, indulging their cravings from breakfast to dessert. A glance through HEB turns up gems like:
- Hatch chile chocolate bars
- Hatch chile sandwich cookies
- Hatch chile potato chips
- Hatch chile hummus
- And so much more.
More traditional recipes incorporate them into cornbread, salsa verde, chili, and most importantly of all, hatch chile stew.
What Is New Mexico-Style Hatch Green Chile Stew?
The first written recipe for green chile stew dates back to the 1940s, published by renowned New Mexican cook and author Fabiola Cabeza de Baca. A humble, homey affair, the recipe included pork, potatoes, and roasted green chile peppers, which has since become the blueprint to an indispensable staple of New Mexican cuisine.
Unsurprisingly, my version takes a few liberties for the sake of ease, nutrition, and plant-based adaptations, but overall stays true to the spirit of the dish. Tender chunks of meatless protein simmered slowly in a rich broth, infused with the smoky, earthy flavor of those alluring chiles take on greater depth alongside potatoes, onions, garlic, and seasonings like cumin and oregano. The result is a hearty, comforting dish that warms you from the inside out, and makes you feel like you’re right at home in the Southwest.
Whether enjoyed on a hot summer afternoon, crisp fall day, or as a cure for a chilly winter evening, hatch green chile stew is a dish that will leave you wanting more.