Hatch chiles are a new commodity harvested in the fall and then available for about two months until the next harvest. Hatch chiles are slightly larger than other varieties of peppers and can be either mild or spicy.
This is generally a straightforward process, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before handling the Chile pods! Next, cut off the top of each pod with long cuts down each side towards the stem end (you want to ensure you don’t cut too close to the stem, or it will just leak).
Next, place the chile in a bowl and cover it with boiling water. This will loosen the skin from the flesh and make peeling easier. Let this sit while you prepare some onions and garlic to add to your dish. The next step is to place your peppers on their sides, slit them open with a knife and remove the seeds. It would be best if you had plenty of juice in your bowl at this point, so drain it off.
Now that you have the peppers in their skins place them skin side down and rub the cut sides with a cut garlic clove. This will release all of the goodness from the garlic, which is essential for flavor.
Next, spread your chiles on a cookie sheet. I used two rows of 3 peppers each since I was making enchiladas. You can put them all in one big pan if you don’t want to cook more than one recipe at a time (I did three at once). Make sure you are placing them right side down to ensure they aren’t too close together.
Now, place the pan in your oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. When you pull them out, there should be a little steam coming off of them. It is essential to let them sit for about 15 minutes before handling them, as the steam can burn your skin! They should be slightly softened now! Rub them with your fingers or a clean soft cloth to peel them. After processing all of these peppers, you can store them in freezer bags or freeze them whole in ziplock bags (make sure they are not touching). This is typically enough to make a couple of meals if you need extra firepower!
Different hatch chile recipes call for other preparations depending on which group of peppers they fall into. For example, the mild peppers can be used for enchiladas, soups, quesadillas, salsa, or even just eaten off the roasting pan after they have been peeled. The hot peppers require some preparation if you want them to retain the heat. Typically they are made into hot sauces and salsas and pickled with vinegar. I hope that you enjoy this new and exciting food trend