With Utah's oddball seasons, fall also means that the tomatoes and melons are FINALLY ripe—food that elsewhere signal high summer. But when I see Hatch chilies in the markets and on the menus, I know summer's over and it doesn't make me sad. The aroma of roasted chilies cheers me right up.
The town of Hatch, New Mexico starts exporting green chilies and holds Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend.
Whole Foods and Harmons both make a big deal out of Hatch chili season, and usually sell them fresh and roasted and in lots of prepared food items. And Z'Tejas hosts its eighth annual Chile Fest starting today and running through September 25. The restaurant will donate $1 from each Chile Festival menu entrée purchased to the Burn Trauma ICU at the University of Utah. The money will be used to send burn survivors, both children and adults, to Burn Camp, an annual program that support burn survivors and helps them cope with the personal and emotional challenges that come after a severe burn.
In no way flippantly speaking of burn, spice-o-phobes need not fear Hatch chilies— "Big Jims" seldom register more than 2,500 on the Scoville heat scale and are often down around 1,000. For comparison, Jalapenos often go as high as 5,000 and habaneros can be 250,000 units.
Put chopped, roasted chilies in hamburger mix, meat loaf, scrambled eggs, tacos, biscuit dough, cornbread, sausage meat,
Here's what Z'Tejas is doing with their chilies:
Chile and Onion Rings — Hatch New Mexico Chile rings and fresh onion straws dipped in buttermilk and seasoned flour, flash-fried, topped with queso fresco and served with prickly pear chipotle BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.
Prickly Pear Glazed Meatballs —Beef and chorizo meatballs smothered in a prickly pear chipotle BBQ sauce, served with crispy Hatch New Mexico Chile and fresh onion rings.
Chile Chicken Salad —Chile glazed chicken atop a mesclun mix with tomatoes, red onions, avocados, pickled Hatch New Mexico Chiles and chipotle peppers, tossed in an apricot dressing, topped with queso fresco.
Chicken Tinga Rellenos — Smoked chicken marinated in tinga sauce, stuffed into Hatch New Mexico Chiles, flash-fried, topped with chipotle sour cream and queso fresco, in a green chile sauce served with nopalitos salad.
Ancho Trout — Ancho bacon panko crusted ruby trout, topped with a mesclun mix salad, avocados, onions, tomatoes and queso fresco in an apricot dressing and green chile aïoli.
Jambalaya Farfalle* — Bay scallops, smoked chicken, andouille and pesto marinated shrimp in creole sauce with farfalle pasta, peas, ancho chiles, topped with queso fresco.
Corona Pork Enchiladas — Pork braised in Corona beer and Jack cheese, topped with green chile sauce, queso fresco and chipotle purée, served with sweet corn rice and borracho beans.
Green Chile Carne Guisada —Chile beef guisada, mixed with red and yellow peppers and Hatch New Mexico Chiles in a green chile sauce, topped with cilantro and queso fresco, served in a cast iron skillet with hot flour tortillas.