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Today was a busy food prep and preservation day here at the casa. I worked on preserving garden tomatoes (canned and roasted/frozen – we’ll talk about that later) and the Hubs roasted and packed 25 pounds of Hatch green chiles.
If you are not familiar with Hatch green chiles, you have not been living life! Those of us who live in the Southwest rely on Hatch green chiles to feed our spicy appetites. They are grown in Hatch, New Mexico and they are considered to be the primer chiles in all of North America. You may be more familiar with an Anaheim chile, which is a cousin to the class Hatch chile. They come in various heat levels, but the medium provides a nice bit of heat that is not going to light your tonsils on fire. Every year around Labor Day, the local big box store offers Hatch chiles by the case. You can even have them roasted outside the store so you can take them home pre-roasted and then just clean and freeze – or even just freeze and clean later. At our house, we have purchased the big box chiles several times and had them roasted for easy preservation. Anytime the Hubs wants to make his famous green chile (stew), he can take out a baggie, peel and seed and be ready to go.
But this year, Bountiful Baskets offered 25 pounds for only $18.00, which was less expensive than the big box’s basic price. With my new “scratch cooking” attitude, I thought it would be prudent to buy the less expensive chiles and roast them at home. And by roast them at home, I mean that the Hubs could roast them out on the grill. He grew up watching his dad do the same, so I knew he could figure it out. He agreed and our box arrived Saturday. 25 pounds looks bigger than it sounds.
Because chiles have a tougher outer skin than another type of pepper, like a bell pepper, it is better to remove it before cooking. That’s where the roasting comes in. Roasting blisters the outer skin, making it easier to remove. You can roast them in the oven under the broiler, or out on the grill. Given that it’s still warm in most of the country, the grill is probably the better way to go – and you can probably do more at a time on the grill. The Hubs happily set up his ‘shop’ out in the carport by pre-heating the grill and setting up a card table to use as his workspace. Once the grill was heated to low-medium heat, he loaded up both levels with chiles.
See the black parts? That’s good! Keep turning the chiles, blackening them on all sides. While you don’t want to become charcoal briquettes, you do want them to be charred all over. Once they are finished, remove from the grill and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Since we were doing a huge quantity, the Hubs used a big garbage bag. Placing them in the bag or covered bowl allows them to steam, which helps the skin separate from the chile, making removal easier.
Once all of the chiles are roasted, you can either peel and seed them or you can just go ahead and bag them up in freezer bags for immediate freezing. We did a little of both – well, mostly we bagged them up and only peeled and seeded some for easier food prep later. If you bag them, be sure to use freezer bags – or you could always use glass or plastic containers. The little baggies can then be combined into larger freezer bags for double protection from freezer burn. When you place the roasted chiles in the baggies, seal them immediately because it helps that steaming process. Then let cool completely before freezing. The Hubs knows how much he usually uses for making his chile, so he bags up the amount he likes. We don’t weigh or measure much around here, we eye-ball proportions. Here’s what they looked like:
For the chile I wanted to peel and seed before freezing, I put them into a glass bowl and covered with plastic wrap. The longer it sits and steams, the better. Basically, let it sit and cool, then take it out and peel off the blackened skin and pull off the stem. Note: Some recommend wearing gloves while handling chiles, but I like to live on the edge and never do – and had no issues. Finally, scrape out the seeds – I like to rinse the seeds out under some running water. You should end up with chiles that look like this:
Once clean and dry, you can go ahead and cook with them immediately or throw them in the fridge for tomorrow, or freeze for later use. I knew that I would be more likely to use them if they were diced and ready to go – like those little cans from the store. So, I diced them up and packed them tightly into some small glass jars (I think they were marinated artichoke jars). Remember, if you’re freezing, you can use up-cycled jars and lids, but if you’re actually canning, you must use mason jars with new lids. To avoid freezer burn and to allow me scrape spoonfuls of green chile out whenever I need some for a recipe, I mixed in a few teaspoons of olive oil. I packed them really tightly to prevent air bubbles, also. Now I have three little jars of ready-to-go diced chiles in the freezer.
I probably should have taken the time to clean up more of the chiles before freezing, but with the tomato preservation going on simultaneously, I was not up to it. That said, if you do a big batch like this and do take the time to clean more, I would recommend doing a combo of dicing and leaving some whole and then maybe slicing some into strips. That way you would have a variety of options you could pull out of the freezer for later.
What would you do with all of those options? Well, here in the SW, we would argue that you could add green chile to almost anything you cook, but you may not be quite so inclined. Obviously, you can put green chile into anything Mexican: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, etc. Chile relleno is a classic green chile recipe (the Hubs and I are working on remembering how his mama used to make the non-deep fried, old-school version). I also use green chile to add flavor and a little heat to classic bean chili, and various soups, chowders and stews. You can also wake up boring burgers and other sandwiches with strips of green chiles – I ADORE an occasional classic egg sandwich with green chiles. Basically, like a bell pepper or even an onion, you can throw green chile into anything you want to add a little flavor to. There are many websites dedicated to green chile recipes; I pinned some ideas onto my “Green Chile” board on Pinterest. Also, check out Cooking Ripe’s Facebook page for more green chile tips and tricks. Check out my Southwestern Green Chile & Potato Corn Chowder recipe.
I’ll show you a few of our family recipes that feature green chile soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the Hub’s green chile (which is what we call green chile pork stew). He makes it the way he learned growing up. We usually make it into enchiladas or wrap it up into burritos. I know, I said was mostly going to show you super healthy recipes, but it’s Hatch chile season, so we have to have some old fashioned enchiladas, right? All things in moderation.
Please reply below to share your favorite green chile recipes.