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Sunday, August 18, 2013

7 Things I Learned While Sipping the Hatch Chile Juice

Posted By on Sun, Aug 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

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Here's the thing, I just don't get the hype over Hatch Chiles. Maybe it's a New Mexico thing, maybe it's a pepper fanatic thing, maybe it's just a gimmick?

Either way, come Hatch season, I wander the aisles at H-E-B and Central Market, wondering what the big effin' deal is. Not this year, not this time.

I marched on over to Hatchtown, er- Central Market to sample just about every Hatch Chile product available during "The Greatest Hatch Chile Festival on Earth" and tried to get why people go nutso over these peppers. Here are my findings:

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This happened.

1. Hatch goes well with chocolate. Our first taste of hatch came in the form of this chocolate hatch gelato. This isn't necessarily a new thing; chocolate with chipotle or ancho peppers is tasty and has been hawked for years.

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Chocolate, nuts, coffee...Yep, coffee.

2. They'll put that shit on everything. No, seriously. One of our most outlandish finds was the Katz bagged coffee. Yeah, sure. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants in the morning, but I'd rather not suffer these consequences.

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Hatch...not hash...brownies.

3. No, really, peppers pair well with chocolate. There was a hint of heat, but it wasn't overwhelming. (Side note: Pronouncing hatch incorrectly led to some really disappointed interns.)

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Beer with a kick!

4. Sometimes, they'll get you with a well-placed sign. None of these beers have hatch in them. Even so, they had a smokiness that could definitely work in beer cocktails.

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5. Tortillas are better with hatch. No, seriously. This was served in a sample of green chicken enchiladas, but they could easily work with just a swirl of butter.

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By the case?

6. You don't have to go at it alone. The help desk gives you a handy-dandy Hatch Survival Guide with tips on picking the perfect pepper, what sort of products you'll find throughout the store, methods for roasting Hatch peppers and how to freeze them (because you'll want to stockpile. These things are seasonal.) The other handout available is from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture with more instructions on how to select, blister, package, freeze and store Hatch peppers.

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An unlikely pair.

7. Hatch goes well with seafood. Who cares if New Mexico is mostly land-locked?

All in all, I'm still not totally on board the Hatch train, but I get it. It works in cheeses and breads, mac 'n' cheese, burgers, chips, dips...but, does it have to be included in coffee, or peach cobbler? Does it warrant an entire festival? Even so, you've got until the Aug. 20 to check it out. 

Sound off in the comments below. Tell us why you're team Hatch or not.

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