It’s Hatch Chile season! If you’ve never been to New Mexico, let me tell you about Hatch chilies. Grown in the Hatch valley in New Mexico, they’re a long green pepper that ranges in spice level from very mild to jalapeno-level spice. In New Mexico they’re a staple–the green chili there, not the pepper but the actual dish, is so good, and so flavorful, and so unique to that area. Enchiladas smothered with the stuff is pretty much heaven. However, they’re only available outside of the Southwest for a couple of weeks a year, if at all. I never did find them in Boston.
So imagine my surprise as I walked into the grocery store last week and saw signs everywhere proclaiming “Hatch chile season” and “three weeks only!” I knew I wouldn’t leave the store without some, even if I wasn’t sure what to do with them. My store had some pre-roasted, from a chile roast that I missed the previous weekend, so I grabbed a package of those. Three weeks only! How could I resist with that kind of genius marketing?
Once home, I surveyed my pantry for inspiration. There sat one last lonely can of tomatillos that made the trek to PA all the way from Boston because that stuff is like gold in the Northeast. I figured what better way to use my last can than with one other ingredient that is rare to me. It was totally worth it.
This salsa is really just chop and throw in a blender. If you are roasting your own chiles, which I would imagine you are unless we are neighbors and shop at the same place, I’ll talk you through it down with the recipe.
Your ingredients: Roasted Hatch chiles (Anaheim chiles are similar if you can’t find Hatch), a big bunch of cilantro, an onion, limes, garlic, jalapenos, and a 28-ounce can of whole tomatillos.
Drain most of the liquid from the tomatillos and add them to a blender.
Next, roughly chop the onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Throw them in too. I left the seeds in my jalapeño because I like some heat, but if you are averse, you can seed it. You can always make it more spicy, but it’s harder to make it less spicy.
Next, remove the skin, stems, and most of the seeds from the hatch chiles. Once they’re roasted the skins should just peel off, but you can use the back of a knife or your fingers to help it along. Add them to the blender. Squeeze in the juice of two limes and blend away.
Blend until everything is combined, then add the cilantro, roughly chopped. Season with a little salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon of cumin then blend again until everything is nicely combined. I wanted a smoother texture so I let it go longer, but if you like your salsa a little more chunky then pulse your blender a few times to combine everything.
Taste for seasoning and adjust with lime juice, salt, or pepper if necessary. Transfer the salsa to an air-tight container and let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving so the flavors have a chance to get to know each other.
The resulting salsa is spicy, tangy, and extremely fresh tasting. The roasting of the chiles really deepens the flavor giving the salsa a depth that would be hard to come by in a can. The tomatillos are tart while the cilantro and lime juice freshens everything up.
Obviously a corn chip is going to be your best mode of delivery. However, its uses shouldn’t stop there. Add it to eggs for a twist on huevos rancheros, or turn your favorite enchilada recipe into enchiladas verdes. I’m going to try to recreate my absolute favorite dish from a great restaurant in Boston that includes shrimp. Stand by for that.
This makes a lot so you don’t have to choose. I’ll tell you from experience though, it’s a great to snack on at game night while losing at poker, so I’ve been told.
Hatch season is the best season.
In other news: Over the next couple of weeks you’ll be seeing some subtle changes to the Two Recipes site that will make it easier to navigate and hopefully a more pleasant experience for you nice people. Already you’ll notice on the right side of your screen a recipe index that has broken all 270 posts into categories that will make it easier for you to search for recipe inspiration. Click on the category you want and it will take you to a page that looks like the front page of the site, but instead will only show recipes that are within that category. You’ll also be able to see more posts per page, with each post giving you brief taste then inviting you to “read more” if you so choose.
I’d like to hear from you, too. What do you love about the site? What do you wish was better? Would you like to see more of something specific, or wish the font was different, or wish I would travel more so I could write more Detours (please say you wish I could travel more, please?) I’m blown away that so many of you stop by and want to make your experience as good as I possibly can.
Here’s the recipe.
Hatch Chile Salsa Verde
- 1 28-ounce can of whole tomatillos, drained
- 8-10 hatch chiles, roasted, skins, stems, and seeds removed*
- 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, from a large bunch
- 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- In a blender, combine tomatillos, roasted hatch chiles, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and lime juice. Blend until combined, then add chopped cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper. Blend well, then taste for seasonings. Adjust if necessary.
- Transfer salsa to an air-tight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
*If you can only find fresh chiles, you can roast them yourself. Take chiles and arrange them on a baking dish under your broiler. Let chiles roast, turning frequently, until very scorched on the outside. The skins should be charred and black. Transfer roasted chiles to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for 30 minutes. Once the chiles have steamed, the skins should be simple to remove with your fingers or the back of a knife. Cut the stems off and cut the chiles in half and remove the seeds. If you have a gas stove you can also roast them on the flame, turning often with tongs. Obviously this involves fire, so please, please, be careful.