Hatch chile deserves all the hype.

By Betty Gold
Updated September 27, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

Hatch chile season has arrived, and we couldn’t be more excited.

If you’ve ever visited New Mexico in August or September, you know what I’m talking about: much of the culinary scene in the Southwest revolves around their world-famous green chile pepper at this time of year. Indeed, the Hatch chile pepper’s versatility paired with its rich and bold, sweet-smoky flavors make it the perfect ingredient to add to almost any dish—which is why you’ll find the ingredient pop up in foods ranging from basic eggs and cocktails to ice cream, sushi, even chocolate bars in the Southwest in early fall. Understandably, Hatch chile has been referred to as the pumpkin spice of the Southwest.

“I’m always finding inspiration on how to use chiles in different ways,” says Patrick Mohn, the executive chef at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort. “With micro-niche foods becoming a trend, I’m excited to see green chile, and specifically Hatch green chile, continue to gain popularity throughout the country.”

As the state’s annual chile harvest is in full swing, Chef Mohn shared these three essential tips for how to cook with New Mexico’s most popular pepper.

How to Cook Hatch Chile

The first step in properly cooking with a green chile starts with preparing the pepper. Some grocery stores will provide chile roasting on-site, but when that’s not available green chile can be easily roasted at home on the grill.

Roasting works best by turning the grill on high and then lowering to medium before adding the peppers. Chef Mohn recommends roasting the green chiles for two to three minutes on each side, then immediately placing them in a sealed container, allowing the freshly roasted peppers to steam for about 10 minutes. The steaming process helps to loosen the skin which makes it easier to clean the chile.

After roasting the chile and allowing the steam, it is time to clean and de-seed the peppers. First, you will need to pull off the remaining skin on the chile. Then, use a paring knife to cut off the stem and split open one side. Lay the chiles flat on a cutting board and use the back of the paring knife to scrape out the seeds. Once the pepper is de-seeded, you can chop the chile or use them in strips depending on what dish you are making and how much spice you prefer. If the chiles are hot, Chef Mohn recommends using disposable gloves when handling them, and it is important to not touch your face or eyes before properly washing your hands.

Ensure Balance Between Flavor and Heat

New Mexico green chile has a very unique flavor derived from the state’s soil and climate. One thing that separates it from other peppers is its rugged flavor profile, which comes from growing in the elevation in the desert and with dramatic differences in the daily high and low temperatures. Green chiles have a deep, complex, and rich bite, so it is important to not overwhelm a dish with spice, and instead find a balance that preserves the delicious flavor profile.

Chef Mohn always recommends tasting the chile on its own to get a sense of its heat level before adding it to a dish. Add a little bit at the beginning of cooking in order to permeate the flavor throughout the dish, and then add some at the end to incorporate the wonderful texture of fresh roasted chile plus more spice as needed.

Consider Unique Ways to Use Green Chile

Since green chile is so versatile, it can bring an unexpected burst of flavor to almost any type of dish, from blending it into a salad dressing to using it in a jam that can be drizzled over vanilla ice cream. It can also be infused with tequila to make a uniquely flavored margarita. For example, at Hyatt Regency Tamaya, the green chile-infused dishes range from green chile omelets and fried green chile strips to a green chile michelada cocktail and their famous green chile apple pie.