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New Mexico’s Hatch peppers return, by the ton

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

If it’s August, that means it’s time to Hatch.

Tons (literally) of the famed New Mexico chiles will be flowing into Texas this month to satiate our collective craving for those signature green Anaheims that come from farms around the small town of Hatch.

Both Central Market and Whole Foods sell specialty Hatch products ranging from hummus to chocolate chip cookies, and host annual celebrations for this pepper, which fanatics often buy roasted (or roast themselves) and then freeze for use throughout the year.

At Whole Foods Market, customers will find Hatch chile from the hot bar to the juice bar, and from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, all the area stores will host an official Hatch Chile Roast with freshly roasted hatch chiles and samples.

If you want to try your hand at roasting your own peppers, go to centralmarket.com/hatch, where you can find five methods for roasting, including using a broiler, a cast iron comal or a charcoal grill. No matter which method you use, be sure to skin and seed the chiles before freezing in a thick zip-top plastic bag.

Hatch Chile Verde Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

This pecan-topped Hatch chile mac and cheese recipe from a Hatch chile lover named Elaine S. won the Plano contest back in 2009. You can find it and dozens more Hatch recipes on centralmarket.com.

1 lb. dried elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp. butter

3/4 cup chicken broth

8 tomatillos, husked and chopped

6 Hatch chiles, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups half and half

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. cream cheese, cubed

2 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded

For topping:

3/4 cup tortilla chips, crushed

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated

Cook pasta until al dente and drain. Butter large cast iron skillet and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat broth with tomatillos and Hatch chiles and cook for 10 minutes. Cool briefly and then transfer to food processor and pulse. Add onion, garlic, cilantro and salt.

Turn on the broiler and heat oil in saucepan. Add tomatillo mixture and cook over medium-low heat for six minutes. Stir in half and half and cheeses until heated through. Toss in pasta and chicken and place in cast iron skillet. Mix last four ingredients in small bowl. Spread topping over the pasta mixture. Place skillet under broiler for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serves 6 to 8.

— From Elaine S., winner of the 2009 Hatch recipe contest in Plano