September is one of my favorite months of the year for a few reasons. This is the month that we usually start seeing cooler temperatures after a blazing hot summer (at least at night). It is also my birthday month, so there are certainly lots of dining opportunities as my friends know how much I love to celebrate with food. But perhaps the best part of September is it is the harvest time of the best chiles on the planet: New Mexico (Hatch) Green Chiles.
Don't be fooled by posers. I had heard that many of the local grocery stores in my area were selling these faux New Mexico chiles instead of the real deal. Many growers and producers claim the name "Hatch". Because of stiff competition and so many claiming to be authentic "Hatch" chiles, it is now illegal to label any green chiles as New Mexico Green Chile unless it is grown in the state of New Mexico.
Last year for the first time, I decided to order my chiles directly from a farm in New Mexico, Diaz Farms to see if there was truly a difference. The shipping cost was no small matter, but I am here to tell you, it was totally worth the expense. There was a huge difference in the flavor of Diaz Farms chiles. This year, we heard that there was a guy in Globe, AZ who was making the drive do the farm to bring back the goods. Fred wasted no time getting up to Globe to buy our chiles. He got a little crazy and brought back something like nine - 35 pound bags of fresh chiles. The whole house smelled like piquant chiles. Fred is a generous guy and shared his bounty with a few of our good friends. We still ended up roasting 2 1/2 - 35 lb bags for ourselves.
Here is Fred getting the roasting started in a roaster borrowed from his good friend Blue. It is super important to make sure you roast them until the skin is good and charred so the skin will come off easily. It is a true skill to make sure they are roasted long enough for the skin to come off, but not too long or the flesh will rip off with the skin.
Caution: Make sure you use rubber gloves when handling your chiles or you are likely to burn your hands and anything else you touch. When I do huge amounts, I don't always peel them before packaging and freezing. The skins come off pretty easily after freezing.
Here is the awesome peeling crew: Jackie and Tyler. Tyler wore gloves and her hands were still burning, so make sure to take that caution note seriously. It's much more fun to roast with friends!
Even the wine glasses weren't safe from being Chilified.
We probably froze at least 80 bags of chiles! I'm excited that we won't have to ration near as much as we did last year. One of Fred's favorite ways to each his chiles is in Sweet Potato Hash. He makes it different every time, so there is no recipe to speak of, but it usually contains sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, lots of true Hatch chiles and onions and whatever else he feels like throwing in. So there you have your "H" for today. Hatches and Hash! Hooooweeee!