Today we're talking about one of my most favorite ingredients ever...The Hatch Chile! I'll be sharing recipes with Hatch Green Chilies plus so much more. Everything you've ever wanted to know including what they are, when & where they grow, the flavor profile, where to buy them, what to make with them, and how to roast and freeze them.
What are Hatch Green Chilies
Hatch Green Chilies are a variety of species from the capsicum family grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. The soil, altitude, and climate of the high desert creates ideal conditions for the growth and cultivation of this highly sought after fruit.
There are many different types of New Mexican Green Chilies with the first being created by Dr. Fabián Garcia now known as the No. 9. While the New Mexican No. 9 is sold in limited numbers, today there are many different variants of the New Mexican Chile.
Grown in New Mexico
While Hatch Green Chilies are grown in the Hatch Valley, there are other areas where New Mexican Green Chilies are grown as well. In fact, Chile farms make up 9,100 acres of the entire state of New Mexico. In 2019 alone New Mexican farmers harvested 63,075 tons of chilies and in 2020, New Mexican Scientists even found a way to grow chilies in space!
The Rio Grande Chile is grown outside of the Hatch Valley alongside the rest of the Rio Grande River. Cities and towns such as Chimayo, Española, San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Bosque, all take part of New Mexico's strong Chile Tradition.
There are even laws protecting the Hatch and New Mexican name being labeled on chilies.
In 2012 a law was passed by New Mexico legislatures banning Chile being labeled as 'New Mexican' if they weren't in fact grown in New Mexico. In addition, these growers are required to add a disclaimer stating "Not Grown in New Mexico".
Then, in 2014 a certification program was created by the New Mexico Chile Association to certify New Mexico Grown Chilies. While other growers throughout the US may use seeds with lineages around 400 years old to grow Green Chile, it's not the same nor is it authentic. The certification program not only protects us, as consumers from falsely labeled products, but also protects the New Mexican farmers and their hard earned bottom line.
It's pretty clear that the Chile Industry is extremely important to the culture of New Mexico but also its overall economy. With New Mexico being the leading producer of Green Chile the industry makes up $450 Million of the states economy and provides over 5,000 jobs to its residents.
Where to Buy Hatch Green Chilies
When you're looking for a place to buy your Green Chilies this season, buy local!
Not your local, but their local.
If you need guidance on where and how you might go about that, i'm here to help!
Of course you can travel to New Mexico during Hatch Chile Season, and hell...WHY NOT?!
Unless of course you're no where near New Mexico, have a busy schedule, a global pandemic is occurring and you've been told to stay home 'or else'...or a butt load of other reasons I could sit here and think of.
Well, then What? How? Where?
- Get a jar from the grocery store? NO! In my opinion those have very little flavor and I can't ever find the 'Hot' jars anyway.
2. Wait til a large fancy pants grocery store in your near by equivalent of my 'Dallas' starts carrying "Hatch Green Chile" everything? NO! How do I know where those came from. Which would explain their lack of heat as well.
Here's what you do...click on this- The Hatch Chile Store - browse all of their amazing products, buy them, stock up for the year and follow along with all of the recipes with hatch green chilies from Chicken Fried Kitchen!
Trust me, this'll put a smile on your face!
I personally use their Hatch Chilies and they've even been kind enough to provide me with quite a few of their products to use in my recipes. They're family owned and operated right in Hatch, NM.
Are Hatch Green Chilies Hot
The short answer is, Yes.
However, it's a bit more complicated because like I said before there are so many different variations of a New Mexican Chile.
So in order to properly answer this question lets first run through the different types.
All New Mexican Chile Peppers are related to the original Number 9 that we discussed before. You're also going to see the name NuMex before a few these. This isn't just a shortened name for New Mexico, in fact its much more scientific. The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University uses the NuMex name to differentiate their Hybrids.
Types of New Mexico Chile
NuMex R Naky
Used as a Paprika cultivar in New Mexico due to its dark red properies and low heat level, this particular Chile was created by Dr. Nakayama in 1985. The mild hybrid is mixed with the Rio Grande 21, New Mexico 6-4, & Bulgarian Paprika and comes it at median Scoville of 500 SHU.
This is a perfect chile for stuffing and roasting and for those who can't take the heat.
NuMex Big Jim
Holding its place in The Guinness Book of World Records as the largest of its kind, these chilies can grow to be about a foot long but typically max out around 9". However, even though it's huge the heat is not.
The Original NuMex Big Jim is a Hybrid of a New Mexican Chile and Peruvian Pepper ranging on the Scoville chart at a median heat level of 2,750 SHU.
This is comparable to that of a mild Jalapeño and is tolerable for most anyone.
The great part of this Chile and its size is the abundance of uses. These can easily be stuffed and used for recipes like Chili Rellanos or even be used as a substitution for bell pepper. Other uses could be as a side during a family cookout or as an ingredient in soups, salads, or gravy.
NuMex Joe E. Parker
This particular New Mexico Chile Hybrid is Named after its creator who is of course a graduate of New Mexico State University.
The NuMex Joe E. Parker is a mild chile ranging from 6-8 inches in length with a Scoville ranging anywhere from 500-4000 SHU. The mildness, lower heat level, and meaty flesh make it perfect for adding flavor to any recipe you can imagine.
NuMex 6-4 Heritage
The NuMex 6-4 Heritage is created from the original New Mexico 6-4 which ran out after such a long time of commercial growing since its inception in 1957. It eventually lost its heat, flavor, maturity, and yield which led the creation of the Heritage version in 1998 using frozen seeds from an original New Mexico 6-4.
These chilies are a bit sweet and have Scoville level ranging from 1000 - 5000 SHU. Much Like the Joe E. Parker, these grow to be around 6- 7 inches and are perfect for any dish. Roasted, the rich flavor and aroma is intensified even further.
The NuMex Sandia also known simply as the Sandia Pepper has a sweet flavor but is surprisingly spicy. Rivaling a Very Hot Jalapeño it lands with a median Scoville rating of 6,000 SHU with its highest being around 7k.
This Chile is perfect for roasting and using in recipes but also makes for a great chile powder when dried and ground.
They are a perfect size averaging about 6 inches in length and like all of the chilies on this list, will mature from green to red.
NuMex Heritage Big Jim
The NuMex Heritage Big Jim is very similar to the Original that I covered above with one major difference, HEAT!
The same process was taken with the Big Jim as the 6-4. The particular version will grow to be around 9 inches but packs a punch in the Scoville level at right around 9,000 SHU making it one the hottest chilies available. Although they are big and hot the Heritage Big Jim retains its traditional flavor of a true New Mexican Green Chile.
Barker's Extra Hot
The hottest New Mexican Chile you can get is the Barker's Extra Hot. This particular Hatch Chile has a median Scoville of 22,000 SHU and grows to be about 6" in length.
Use these much thinner and hotter versions to add a real kick any of your dishes. The flavor is similar to all the others, that is if you can still taste them!
Red, Green, or Christmas?
New Mexican Chilies start out green and as they ripen become red. Typically they're harvested, roasted, and then used while they are green. However, when making chile powder or flakes then they're typically used when fully ripe and red.
Many recipes with hatch chilies use red and green or a combination of both.
So, when eating New Mexican Cuisine you'll be asked how you like it, red, green, or christmas.
When asked this, they're referring to the type of chile sauce you'd like. So it's important to know the difference.
When a Hatch Chile is green you typically get the most heat at the beginning of the bite and a more earthy flavor. Where as with red, because it's been left to ripen longer it becomes sweeter and the heat comes at the end of the bite. Much of this of course has to do with the type of chile used and also how it's prepared.
If you just really aren't sure and wanna give both of the sauces a shot, ask for Christmas.
I'll even go out on a limb here and say that after your first couple bites...
Chile, Chili, or Chilli
This is an important topic especially if you decide to travel to New Mexico, which I highly recommend.
I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here. I'm not from New Mexico nor have I ever lived there. My parents lived in Rio Rancho, NM for quite some time but that certainly doesn't make me an expert.
However, I do believe it's important to keep things authentic when using other's culinary creations.
So, with that being said, here's what I've learned. While the spellings are used interchangeably in most of the US, things get very specific in New Mexico.
In this image we see the ingredients for Strawberry Rhubarb Preserve with Hatch Green Chilies which include a bowl of Strawberries, two stalks of Rhubarb, and a Hatch Green Chile right up front.
Not to be confused with Chile the Country, this is the proper spelling in New Mexico for Green Chile that is grown in New Mexico. In fact, in 1983 New Mexican Senator Pete Domenici had this spelling entered into the Congressional Record as the official spelling of the New Mexican Chile.
Now, in this particular image we see a bowl of Chili topped with cheese accompanied by a cinnamon roll. This is a midwestern tradition especially in Nebraska.
When using this particular spelling in New Mexico and I believe most of the US, this refers to Chili Con Carne which translates to Chili with Meat. This is a chili powder spiced tomato based stew typically with ground beef but can also include other types of meat.
This is interchangeable with the above-stated 'Chili' in its reference to Chili Con Carne. However, this spelling is most commonly used in the U.K.
Now, for me personally this is where things get fuzzy. I've found myself using the plural as 'Chiles' and also as you've seen here, 'Chilies'. While both may be correct and most of you obviously know what i'm referring too, Im hard pressed to find any definitive answers around the authentic pluralization in New Mexico. Im all ears if anyone has some feedback on this please leave it in the comments below so we can all learn and grow together!
When are Hatch Green Chilies in Season
In our house every season is Hatch Chile Season. But i'm pretty sure that's not the answer you're after...
Hatch Green Chilies are typically in season between the beginning of August and end of September. Depending on the weather, harvesting season can be extended from mid-July to mid-October.
As you can see, plans need to be made upfront for the entire year based around this one month period of time.
So be sure to buy plenty of them while on The Hatch Chile Store's website!
How to Roast Hatch Green Chilies
Okay, so if you decide to go to New Mexico and buy your chilies fresh then you have a couple of options.
You can always have them roasted for you. Which, when you're there is all part of the experience. The smell is amazing and that fire kissing the bottom of that basket is mesmerizing. You feel like they wanna jump out and into your hot, steamy paper bag to be taken home with you. Okay, maybe I took that a little far...or did I..?
If for some crazy reason like family tradition or something you decide to do this yourself, heres how.
I highly recommend roasting over a charcoal fire. I personally use a Big Green Egg but of course any equivalent charcoal grill will work.
Get a fire going at 400°f, place your Hatch Chilies on the grate, close the lid and roast them until the skin is charing and coming loose. Just be sure to keep an eye on them and when they're ready pull 'em off and let 'em cool.
How to Freeze Hatch Green Chilies
If you decided to roast your own, hopefully you read everything here before doing so and bought plenty to stock up for the year, If that's the case then you're gonna wanna freeze them. Its as simple as getting some freezer bags, putting them in there, pushing out as much air as possible and sticking them in the freezer.
If you want to preserve them even longer then I highly recommend investing in a food saver vacuum sealer. I use mine for a lot of different things from sous vide recipes to cooking large pieces of meat like pulled pork.
What can I make with Hatch Green Chilies
The real question is...What CAN'T you make with Hatch Green Chilies. There are so many recipes that most people wouldn't even think about putting green chilies in that should include them. Below I have a running list of my very own recipes with Hatch Green Chilies! I hope you enjoy and be sure to subscribe to my mailing list so you don't miss any updates!
This recipe for Hatch Green Chile Corn Chowder with Blackened shrimp is absolutely amazing. It's lite but full of flavor and heat with the pairing of Hatch Chilies and Blackened seasoning from the shrimp. Squeeze a little lime juice over the top for a perfect dish that transcends seasons.
A whole different take on Mississippi Hot tamales uses Sous Vide Beef Short Ribs and Hatch Green Chilies with a corn bread type masa. Top it all off with a midwestern style Chili and melted cheese! YUMM!
One of our most popular recipes here at Chicken Fried Kitchen is our Hatch Green Chile Mac and Cheese. This a true set it and forget it recipe made in a slow cooker.
Extremely popular by many New Mexicans and Hatch Chile lovers across America, this Strawberry Rhubarb preserve recipes sneaks the Hatch Chilies in for a punch of heat at the end of every sweet bite.
This warm and cozy recipe for Chicken with Dumplings Soup gets a spicy kick with the addition of flavorful hot Hatch Green Chilies.
Regardless of if you're looking for everything Hatch Chile or simply searching for recipes with Hatch Green Chilies, look no further! We have it all right here at Chicken Fried Kitchen and are happy to share everything we learn with you. After all, thats what I'm here for.
Please don't hesitate to share with your friends and family, subscribe and receive updates, and comment below with anything I may have missed!
Thank you for reading and Happy cooking!