by Steven Doyle
It’s time to gear up once again for one of our favorite times of the year, Hatch Chile Season. No one does Hatch Chile’s better in Dallas than Central Market with all the grandeur deserving the flavorful pepper.
For those that participated last season know it was a particularly spicy year with even the mild versions having an extra bit of kick. It will be interesting to see how the weather this year affects the peppers on the Scoville front.
This will mark the 22nd season for Central Market since they first fired up their first batch of chilies creating a great stir that has continued to gain momentum as one of the market’s top festivities.
Central Market kicks off their Annual Hatch Chile Festival on Wednesday, Aug. 9th through Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 when they kick up the black, authentic chile roasters. The festival is a salute to the seasonal return of the famous peppers, fresh from Hatch, New Mexico that are harvested for only a few weeks out of the year, aren’t grown anywhere else in the world, and connoisseurs consider them some of the finest and most versatile.
Central Market will be highlighting many ready-to-eat items featuring the peppers including:
Southwestern Pasta Salad with Hatch Peppers – Bowtie pasta packed with flavor! Black beans, marinated roasted tomatoes, grilled corn, cilantro, Cotija cheese, and, of course, Hatch peppers! Tossed in our scratch-made Hatch Lime White Wine Vinaigrette and ready to be the main dish or a sensational side.
Hatch Pepper Pimento Mac ‘n’ Cheese – Oh yes, we did. Your favorites have come together in one incredible dish: roasted Hatch peppers, Southern Style Pimento Cheese, and creamy, homestyle macaroni and cheese made with heavy cream. Comfort food at its finest!
Chicken with Poblano and Hatch Pepper Rajas – Roasted Poblanos and Hatch peppers paired with creamy, rich Mexican Crema and salty Cotija cheese make this a chicken dish to remember!
And of course CM will have your favorites back again: Hatch Tortillas, Roasted Hatch Marinated Sirloin, Hatch Salsa (are you getting any ideas, fajitas, maybe?). There is also, chips, cookies, breads, and a whole list of other things they added peppers to.
Earlier this year I spent several months in New Mexico making my way around the state devouring everything with a Hatch pepper including many, many rellenos. Below is a good recipe to use your pepper.
The model for this fabulous version comes from the kitchens of the Benevidez sisters at Chope’s in La Mesa and the Hernandez family at Nellie’s Café in Las Cruces. These chile rellenos are covered in gooey cheese with a green chile sauce and are worth every calorie and minute of preparation.
- 12 ounces (about 3 cups) shredded cheese, preferably Monterey jack cheese or asadero, shredded
- 12 whole roasted large New Mexican green chiles, slit from end to end
- 6 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil or shortening for deep frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Green Chile Sauce, warmed (red sauce optional)
- With your fingers, stuff each chile with cheese, filling them well but not to overflowing
- Preheat oven to 400
- To prepare the batter, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Mix in the egg yolks, the ½ cup flour, and salt, beating only until combined. Note the batter should be lightly stiff and thick enough to coat the chiles.
- Heat 4 inches of oil in a large heavy pan to 350° F. Place a baking rack over a few thicknesses of paper towels within easy reach of the stovetop
- Pour 1 cup of flour out on a plate. Lay the first chile, seam-side up, in the flour to coat, using a spoon to cover it thoroughly.
- Dunk the chile into the batter, seam-side up, and spoon more batter over it. When evenly coated, pull it from the batter by its stem and let any excess batter drip back into the bowl. No cheese should show—the batter should be thick enough to seal the chile’s slit.
- Slip the chile into the oil and repeat with the remaining chiles as you have room in the pan.
- Fry the chiles for about 4 to 5 minutes, turning as needed to fry them until evenly golden and crisp. Drain the chiles on the baking rack.
- Transfer the chiles to a heatproof platter or individual plates, then top with chile sauce and cheese. Pop in the oven for about 3 minutes, until the cheese on top has melted. Serve immediately.