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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hatch Chiles X 2

 Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas

I used to be a chile pepper chicken, meaning that I thought my delicate palate couldn't handle the heat.  Now I know that chiles are a bit about their heat but a lot more about different nuances of flavor, and that each chile variety offers its own of both.  So rather than getting out of the kitchen because I can't stand the heat, I now keep my mind and mouth open to using chiles more often.

If you like chiles with a range of heat levels, and you like to eat seasonally, have I got a chile for you.
Available in mild, medium, hot, and someone call the fire department extra hot, Hatch is a newer variety,grown in Hatch, New Mexico, just west of the Rio Grande River.  This small village of about 2,000 swells to thousands more for the Hatch Chile Festival held every Labor Day weekend.

Fresh Hatch Chiles

Similar to the Anaheim, but with thicker skin that makes them perfect for roasting, the Hatch chile has a season is only about 6 weeks long.  Hatch aficionados know that you must acquire as many Hatch chiles as you can, pre-roasted or roast them at home, then pack them into your freezer and hopefully they'll last throughout the fall, winter, spring, until August rolls around again.

While a trip to New Mexico would probably be a lot of fun, you don't have to travel all the way to Hatch to enjoy the 400 year old tradition of roasting and eating Hatch chiles.  Thanks to Melissa's, there are roastings at supermarkets throughout the U.S. -
Roasting in Westchester, CA 

Hatch Chiles Roasting on Stove Top

For our recent FBLA food blogger potluck, which had a "grilling" theme, I made Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas.  The Hatch chiles were roasted ahead of time on my stove top, then seeded and diced.  I brought them to the event with the remaining ingredients and then we grilled the quesadillas outdoors over coals.

Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas

Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas
6 multi-grain or whole wheat/corn flour tortillas
3 Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, diced
3 large nectarines, thinly sliced (leave skin on)
1 cup queso fresco or mild feta, crumbled *
1 cup queso Oaxaca, torn into strips, or any melting cheese you like *
3/4 cup diced green onions
3 Tbsp. mango chutney or apricot preserves
grapeseed oil for brushing outside of tortillas
(*I used only shredded soy cheddar & jack cheeses and everyone gave thumbs up)

Place 3 of the tortillas on your prep surface.  Spread a tablespoon full of chutney or preserves over the top of each.  Sprinkle some of the cheese over the tortillas, then add the roasted chile strips and sliced nectarines. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese, then the green onion, and then top each with another tortilla.  Brush the outside of the tortilla with grapeseed oil before placing on a hot grill.  Cook about 8 minutes per side or until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly crisp.  Remove from the grill and when cool enough to handle cut into wedges and serve with your favorite salsa.

Roasted Hatch Chile Zucchini Bread from Cooking on the Weekends

Left-Shredded Zucchini
Right-Roasted Hatch Chiles
For my "Hatch Chiles X2" I selected something from my friend Valentina's blog Cooking on the Weekends as part of her first annual Share The Love Cooking Giveaway.  Valentina has taken a classic summer staple and given it a spicy spin - Roasted Hatch Chile Zucchini Bread.  I made it almost exactly as written except I had to substitute golden brown sugar for the white because that's what I had on hand. Delicious - thanks Valentina!