While we each enjoyed a bowl of beans laced with the fruit of that irresistible plant, grown best in New Mexico, it occurred to us that we had never done a post about how to get Hatch Chile when you live in the Midwest! I mean this is mostly a Travel Blog – but some things are near and dear to us…..
Where to get Hatch Chile and what to do with it once it arrives.
We know…. exactly why most people who go to New Mexico to live don’t ever return from the land of the Big Sky. My Dad’s best friend Gary Keye, warned me years ago…. he said
“Lynnski – if you ever go to New Mexico, you won’t come back because you would love it there!”
Rob did it the other way around. Rob went to high school in Roswell, New Mexico with all the aliens! After completing his undergrad degree in Architecture at the University of New Mexico he was accepted to the Master’s program at the University of Illinois. He had always intended to return to New Mexico after graduation. But life happens – you need a job and you take the best offer there is. In 1987 Rob moved to Rockford to work for Larson & Darby Architects and right away he started searching grocery stores for those addictive Green Chiles!
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Rob understands now that he really didn’t know what Green Chiles were. In New Mexico they are everywhere! They are in or on everything! “Do you want red or green?” the server will ask. They put them in stew, they stuff them with cheese, bread and deep fry them. You can buy them in the supermarket and then take them out to the parking lot where they will roast them for you. Do you think Rob could find any in Rockford?? Absolutely NOT!
After exhausting his search for Hatch Chile and talking with his Mother about it, she agreed to try shipping him a box. She would visit a grocery store in New Mexico to purchase a 30# bag of Hatch Chile! Then she would just dump them into a box and ship them to Rob. Arriving a few days later most of the Hatch Chile would be perfect, a few would be orange or red, and a couple would be spoiled. It was definitely a much better option than living without Hatch chiles! Rob would fire up his gas grill and grill the chiles just like you would a burger. It is important to carefully turn them with the tongs till all sides are perfectly blistered. After they are done you just ziplock bag them and toss in the freezer for year around use. They are really easy to peel frozen, you don’t have to thaw them first.
A box of chiles had arrived from Rob’s mother, back in 1992. That’s about when I came into his life. He answered the door one day wearing rubber gloves…. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Peeling Green Chiles” he replied. Like I was supposed to know… I was thinking (you have to wear gloves to peel something you are going to eat??) so I asked him “why are you wearing gloves?”. Having lived in Rockford my whole life I had NO idea what these Chiles were. He goes on to tell me that there is some kind of toxic oil in the skin of the Chile that will burn you….. As always – I don’t believe it. I question everything! GLOVES to peel food?? Seriously?
Two daughters, two business, two commercial buildings, three homes and 25 years later – our internet order for Green Chiles arrives at our door! Thanks to Julia Belles, Rob’s sister (the smart one who never left the state) each year we receive a shipment of 30# for us and 30# for our daughters to split. She orders them online from The Hatch Chile Store! What an AWESOME gift!!
(Except when we’re traveling)
We immediately opened the boxes of Hatch Chile!
They had arrived just in time for Lunch!
A lot has happened since the day Rob was peeling the Chiles with gloves on… We now have a designated Green Chili Roaster. It is an old gas grill that Rob retrofitted with a rotisserie and a hand made chili roasting basket!
Rob loaded some Chiles into the roaster just in time for lunch. We were going to have a B.L.T.C., but the BLT’s didn’t wait for the Chiles to roast. We had bacon from our friends Mark and Sherry at FarmRite Organics, a local Biological Organic. Our sandwiches also had Leaf Lettuce and fresh Tomatoes from our own organic garden, on the Gluten Free bread from the supermarket! We gobbled them down while waiting for the Hatch Chiles to roast. Instead we ate the Chiles for dessert! I peeled two for each of us with my bare hands – no burns, imagine that!
Can you smell the roasting Hatch Chile?
As I am writing this post I asked him “who told you that you had to wear gloves to peel chiles anyway?” and he begins laughing out loud…. “I don’t know – my Mom, I guess” I was wondering because I have now been peeling green chiles with my bare hands for more than two decades! No problem-o! I figure it must have been a joke. Or it could have been a fear that was instilled in the Gringos – by Native Americans. Perhaps they thought it would be funny, if the white people all wore gloves. You know, most people just follow the herd. Sorry Rob – I know you are different now. Your laugh was genuine – at yourself! I love you and the Hatch Green Chiles you taught me about!
All this talk about Chili – I think I need a snack!
But then I will bag up the rest “I PROMISE”!