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Divas on a Dime: It’s time for Hatch Chili season!

Want to know why chile pepper fans get excited in August? Because it’s time to celebrate Hatch chile season!

Hatch chile season is one of the benefits of living in the Southwest. This annual tradition is extremely popular, especially in New Mexico and Texas and I’m thrilled we get to enjoy it here, too.

What the heck is a Hatch? Hatch chiles are slender, green chile peppers named after the town of Hatch, New Mexico, the only region where they’re grown. Chile-heads get very excited about “the season” because these peppers are only available fresh for a few weeks in August to the beginning of September.

Hatch chiles are the perfect balance of flavor and heat. But they taste very harsh raw so they are nearly always roasted. Roasting creates caramelization of sugars, which adds a tantalizing smoky flavor to the chile.

Be aware the chiles come in three levels of heat; mild, medium and hot. The hot is really hot! I suggest choosing mild because the versatile flavor works in so many recipes.

How to roast peppers: Place oven rack on the top position. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place chiles in a single layer on the pan. Pop them in the oven for 5 minutes or until the skin begins to char and blister. Use tongs to turn the peppers and continue to cook so every side gets roasted.

Meanwhile, get a kitchen towel and dampen it with water, wring it out and set aside. Get the chiles out of the oven when they’re about 75% blackened. Use tongs to put the chiles on the damp towel and roll them up. You may need several towels depending on the number of chiles. After 15 minutes, unwrap chiles. The steam will loosen the skin so it’s easily removed. Remove the skin and open them up to remove the tops and seeds. Now chop them up to use in recipes or freeze.

ROAST HATCH CHILE SALSA VERDE

Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 2 ½ cups

What You’ll Need:

1 ½ pounds tomatillos – skin removed and cut in half

1 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks

4 garlic cloves, skins removed

3 mild Hatch chiles

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup cilantro leaves

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 lime – optional

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic and hatch chiles onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, cool slightly. Remove the seeds and skin from the chiles. Put all the beautiful charred ingredients into a blender, along with the cilantro. Puree until it’s as smooth as you like it. I like it pretty smooth so all the flavors meld. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate and serve.

This salsa is so versatile, you can add it to casseroles, egg dishes, as a flavorful accompaniment for meat, chicken or fish. However, paired with crispy tortilla chips (and a great big margarita) this salsa will add delectable spice to any fiesta!

Fabulous Food by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Website and blog – www.divasonadime.com Join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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