Hatch Chile
Photo/iStock Photo/Getty Images

Wait until you smell a tumbler of roasting Hatch chiles. You’ll want to follow your nose, but be quick about it. The Hatch chile of New Mexico is a delicacy that is generally available fresh only during August and September. The rest of the year, the chiles—whole, chopped or sauce—only come jarred or canned. The peppers are also geographically exclusive, being grown in and named for the Hatch Valley region that stretches along the banks of a curving Rio Grande in eastern New Mexico about 80 miles north of El Paso, Texas. While 37 varieties exist, to be considered authentic they must be grown in the Hatch region.

What distinguishes the nine-inch-long-by-two-inch-diameter chile is not heat. They register 1,000 to 1,800 on the Scoville pungency scale (between a third of and equal the heat of a jalapeño). What makes the Hatch special is its sweetness. Eaten raw, any heat the green Hatch delivers comes at the beginning. The overarching flavor is rather earthy and is similar to the more common Anaheim pepper. Hatch aromas can include onion and garlic.

What you really want to do is roast them. During the season, you’ll see hundreds of Hatch chiles being put into roasting tumblers over an open flame. (Achieve that at home on your stove over an open flame.) Roasting chars much of the pepper’s skin and brings out the richer, smoky, even buttery flavors. Let the young, green Hatch chile age to a ripe, red color and it will become more mellow and the heat will bloom at the end of your tasting.

Among the best ways to eat a Hatch chile is to take a roasted piece and put it on a burger. Or in pork chile verde. Or in an enchilada. Or in shakshuka with eggs. Or cornbread. In fact, the list of good ways to eat Hatch chile may outlast the season.

Gourmet

More in The Good Life

See all
Cigars In Paradise

Cigars In Paradise

You slip out of the gin-clear waters of Saint-Jean Bay, towel off and pull on a shirt and sandals. A …

Jul 21, 2022
Cigar Aficionado’s 2022 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Cigar Aficionado’s 2022 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Need ideas for the perfect present this Father's Day? Here's a unique compilation of distinct gifts …

Jun 3, 2022
Tequila is Hot!

Tequila is Hot!

Tequila, particularly on the high end, is the most exciting spirit category in the United States, …

May 23, 2022
Cigar Aficionado's Gambling Guide

Cigar Aficionado's Gambling Guide

Cigar Aficionado's Ultimate Gambling Guie.

May 23, 2022
Vintage Casino Chips

Vintage Casino Chips

It’s been said that whoever invented gambling was smart. But the guy who invented chips was a genius. …

May 23, 2022
Cool Clubs

Cool Clubs

What the irregular golfer needs is a high-tech fitting from an independent company that does not care …

May 23, 2022