Have you Hatched yet? If not, there are O.C. opportunities to score the long, green New Mexico chile through the end of this month, and likely into September since the harvest got off to a slow start this year. Check the list of roasting events I ran earlier in Taste of Orange County, here. Once you have your Hatch chiles in hand, you can make the deeply authentic sauce shared by O.C. public relations pro and Hatch chile maven Lee Healy, whose recipe I promised in that earlier post.
First, a bit more from Healy, who was raised in Los Angeles but married into New Mexico chile culture. As I mentioned, she skips the free barrel roastings offered at Hatch chile sales events, and prepares them herself at home, where she can control the level of blackening—she says those big propane roasters can overdo the char.
Her method: “Throw them by the batch into the sink to rinse, then dry and prick lightly with a fork. The chiles are ready for a quick roast on the barbecue grill or under the oven broiler, turning once and watching carefully,” she advises. Whether you roast your own or have them roasted at the store, stack on sheet pans to cool, then freeze with skins, seeds, and all—as Healy pointed out earlier, when a bag is removed to thaw and use, the skins slip off easily.
Another tidbit Lee learned from her father-in-law Ramon Cano, pertaining to chiles going straight from the grill to top a burger or tuck into a quesadilla: Peel and seed, then sprinkle lightly with garlic powder, which mellows the chile acidity. Another use for whole chiles is as rellenos—slip a rectangle of jack cheese inside, dip in egg-white batter, fry.
The Cano family recipe for green chile salsa follows. Lee and family enjoy it with eggs, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, or fajitas. I can see it served with the relleno described above, for Hatch flavor-layering. One very important proviso: This sauce is always served warm, no matter the application.
Cano Family New Mexico Green Chile Sauce
16 to 18 New Mexico green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
In large sauté pan, heat oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft. Do not brown. Add chopped chiles and sauté 5 minutes, gently stirring from time to time. Add tomatoes and salt to taste. Add water to barely cover ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture should be slightly soupy—if too much liquid cooks away, add water as necessary. Serve warm. NOTE: Sauce may be frozen.