Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook
A muy caliente cookbook review with recipe
BY: Adrianne Morrison & Linda Kissam
There are not many things chile lovers anticipate more than Hatch Green Chile season. It’s here now (Late July & August) , so head to your favorite market to pick them up right now. And while you’re at it, buy “the Bible” on Hatch Chile’s. Hatch Chile Cookbook (Download PDF Format)
Did you know that the best green chile in the world is grown in the rich Hatch and Rio Grande Valleys in New Mexico? Hatch Chile’s are harvested in New Mexico and sold around the southwestern United States each August and September. New Mexico Chiles are an indispensable ingredient in the state’s most popular culinary dishes. Aficionados slather their food with these chiles, share recipes and argue over who makes the best Rellenos.
New Mexico chiles possess an exceptional reputation for taste and flavor. They have a meaty flesh and mild-medium heat. The New Mexico green chile presents with pepper flavor that has been described as lightly pungent similar to an onion, or like garlic with a subtly sweet, spicy, crisp, and smoky taste. The ripened red retains the flavor, but adds an earthiness and bite while aging mellows the front-heat and delivers more of a back-heat. The spiciness depends on the variety of New Mexico chile peppers
To celebrate the history of chile in New Mexico, the city of Hatch hosts the annual Hatch Chile Festival during Labor Day Weekend. This festival has entertained visitors and locals for more than forty years. In addition to this festival, the Green Chile Cheeseburger trail was established to showcase the region’s best cheeseburgers. Chile truly is addictive and people travel from all over the United States to enjoy the amazing chile flavors New Mexico has to offer.
Because of their short season, roast and peel them for storage in the freezer throughout the year. Use in Chile Con Queso, Chiles Rellenos, and Chile Verde. Roast them for use in salads, soups, stews, dips, and sandwiches. Infuse in chocolate.
Here’s a look at what Linda and Adrianne thought about this book. Hint: We gave it 5 our of 5 stars.
Can you imagine one whole cookbook dedicated to simply one ingredient? I couldn’t. Then I opened Melissa’s HATCH CHILE Cookbook in which Sharon Herandez and Chef Ida Rodriguez guide us to the Land of Enchantment and show us we can have chiles for breakfast or lunch, as appetizers, for dinner, then desert and drinks! Say what? It’s true. New Mexico is the home to the Hatch Chile—a chile that will brighten all of the dishes we regularly prepare: omelets to s’mores. You can add them to batters or use in sauces, salsas, spreads, as a garnish or decoration.
My pantry always has several easy-to-grab cans of whole and diced “green” chiles. But what if I roasted and froze fresh chiles instead? Sounds easy enough, you only need do it once a year just after the chiles are harvested in later summer. They last up to two years frozen, albeit, we are warned they get hotter as they age, so be sure to taste before you use them liberally. Sounds like a great way to enhance the flavor of everything. A few easy instructions, some baggies and you’re ready to save your chiles and it sounds so much easier than canning. (Have you ever wondered why storing cooked vegetables or fruits, jams and jellies sealed in mason jars is called canning? Think I’ll go look that up.
I’m back with my “Spicy Ice Cubes and Ginger Ale” and looking forward to taste “as the ice cubes melt, the drink will be come spicier.” [p.170] According to Word Detective, at word-detective.com:
The use of “can” to mean “seal food in a glass jar” does seem illogical, until we note that the process of preserving food in cans uses roughly the same method you use in “putting up” food in jars, namely heating the food in the vessel to eliminate bacteria and then sealing the container with a vacuum. This method of preserving food was invented in the late 18th century by Nicolas Appert in France in response to a call by Napoleon Bonaparte for a system of supplying French troops with preserved food that could both be easily transported. … The word “can,” by the way, comes from the Latin “canna” (meaning “container”), … Then they figured out the “tin can” container but that wasn’t really feasible at home. Would you believe a tinsmith, John Mason invented the Mason jar in 1858, “a heavy glass jar with a threaded lid sealed by a rubber grommet, … and the simplicity and durability of his design has made the Mason jar the de facto standard of home canning ever since.
Sharon and Chef Ida have the better plan: roasting on a flame then freezing in baggies. I’ll be using their suggestion to add Hatch chiles to my dishes throughout the year. This cookbook is full of easy, straight-forward delicious recipes anyone can make. The greatest challenge is judging the right degree of heat to add so you’ll have to know your guests too-hot-preference and taste as you prepare. Hatch chiles are not as boring as California Chiles—not as hot as Jalapeños—they’re just right. I can’t wait to make the “Mango Hatch Rellenos with Mango-Chipotle Sauce” [p.141]. I’m sure friends will get a taste of the Hatch “Peanut Brittle” [p.164] at Christmas. And, if you run out of chiles before the next season, Melissa’s offers Hatch Chile Powder at Melissas.com. How cool is that? I mean… How Hot?
As a native Southern Californian, Hatch Chile season is one of my favorite times of the year. Last year I made Hatch Chile everything and anything with the big box of Hatch Chiles and the cookbook mailed to me from Melissa’s PR guy, Robert Schueller. By the end of the season, I had convinced everyone I know, that these particular chile’s really are the “IT” food of late summer.
Now, I realize some of my friends were ducking me by the end of August, but it’s a new season of the green beauties. I look forward to starting it all over again. Grab a glass of Dos Equis or Sangria…I’ll be knocking at your door soon.
Just so you know, The Hatch Chile Cookbook is a flavorful collection of user friendly and palate pleasing recipes using Hatch Chiles and Hatch Chile Powder. You can easily download a PDF copy for under ten bucks. It makes a great hostess gift in the hardback format for under $20. Bring one to the next BBQ you’re invited to.
Enjoy this recipe courtesy of Melissa’s/World Variety Produce.
By Chef Tom Fraker
1 2 lbs. Flank Steak – trimmed to taste
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese — finely grated
1/2 cup Fresh Mozzarella Cheese — finely grated
1 fresh Egg — slightly beaten
3 Melissa’s New Mexico Hatch Chiles — roasted; peeled; seeded
5 fresh Basil Leaves
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Your Favorite Bristol Farm’s Pasta Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Using a mallet, pound the flank steak to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with the salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses and the egg. Spread the mixture over the bottom 1/3 of the flank steak and top that with the Hatch chile and basil leaves. Roll the steak up tightly and secure it with butcher’s twine. In a large oven proof pan, heat the olive oil.
Place the steak in the hot pan, season with the salt and pepper and sear it on all sides. Next, pour the pasta sauce over the top and cover with foil. Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until desired doneness. Makes about 4-6 servings.
Pounding the flank steak makes it rollable and tenderizes it.