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Hatch Chiles: Unpredictable, Hard to Find, and Worth the Fuss

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Every other week we get Down & Dirty with our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. 

Today: Hatch a plan to get ahold of these chiles.

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Hatch Chiles

Hatch chiles are a foodie dream food: They have a short season (in the late summer to early fall) and a unique flavor profile—and they're hard to get your hands on.

The "hard to get your hands on" piece is due to the fact that Hatch chiles have a limited growing region. Just as Champagne has to be made with grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, Hatch chiles are New Mexico chiles grown in and around….wait for it...the city of Hatch. There isn't a single varietal of green chile peppers named Hatch, but the Hatch Valley has a unique terroir, which in turn creates the unique flavor profile in the chiles grown in the area.

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Look for them at your favorite well-stocked grocery store or buy them online. Our friends at Frieda’s recommend choosing firm chiles with no blemishes and storing them in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic. Aim to use or freeze them within five days.

More: Here's a handy chart to help you know how long all of your fresh produce will last.

They are large chiles, and while they can be relatively mild, some can also be quite hot. Unless you’re lucky enough to get them from a store that has labeled them by heat level, get ready to play Hatch Chile Roulette. Adjust your dishes accordingly after you discover whether or not your mouth is on fire.

Some stores that used to carry Hatch chiles are no longer doing so, in the name of their carbon footprint, so if can’t get your hands on Hatch chiles, try substituting Anaheim chiles or poblanos. And, on the flip side, if you can find Hatch chiles, feel free to use them in recipes calling for poblanos or any other green chiles. You find recipes often call for Hatch chiles to be roasted (1, pictured above) as it enhances their flavor; you can blister them directly over a flame on a grill or gas stove or under the broiler in an oven.

Here's how to spice up your life, with a dozen ideas to get you cooking with Hatch chiles from morning 'til night:

Breakfast

Appetizers

Mains and Sides

Tell us: What are your favorite ways to use Hatch chiles?

Photos by Alpha Smoot

Tags: down and dirty, diagrams, special diets, hatch chiles