The cover of the Food & Wine section on August 12 will feature a hot and cold smoked foods. Inside you'll find more recipes plus buying, cooking and health tips on a variety of food-related subjects. For past food stories and recipes go to www.tri-cityherald.com/food-wine.
One welcome heat spell
Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times
Green chiles, otherwise known as Hatch chiles, range in temperature from spicy to incendiary and are to New Mexican food what tomatoes are to Italian cooking. They are ubiquitous in sauces and are delicious when stuffed and fried for chiles rellenos.
At chile roastings, the green chiles are generally sold by the bushel. They’re tumbled in a contraption that looks something like a giant bingo drum suspended over a propane flame. After the chiles have turned in the roaster to char the skin – just a few minutes – you get to take them home. Green chiles prepared this way can be frozen as-is to be pulled out and used later. They must be peeled before using.
Because of the popularity of the chiles, Hatch growers are threatened by unscrupulous sellers who use that name to sell peppers grown in other areas. So Hatch chile growers have banded together to ask the government to recognize their crop, similar to what has been done by Vidalia onion growers and Napa Valley winemakers.
Duane Gillis, whose family has grown Hatch chiles for five generations and who is president of the Hatch Chile Association, says his group has appealed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to recognize Hatch chiles as a special product coming from a certain place. (Particularly infuriating is a canned chile product sold under the “Hatch” brand by a company based in Georgia.)
“Any chile grown in the Hatch Valley has a unique flavor because of our warm, dry climate,” says Gillis, whose great-grandfather began farming in the area just after the turn of the last century and whose sons are now starting in the business.
“The main thing Hatch chile is known for is the sweet flavor. Even though it can be very hot, it has a sweetness that no other place does.”
GREEN CHILE MAC AND CHEESE
1 hour, 10 minutes. Serves 6 to 8
1 pound whole wheat macaroni, penne or other dried pasta shape
1/4 cup butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
5 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided (about 1 pound)
1/2 to 3/4 cup peeled, seeded, chopped fresh or frozen green chile
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Cook the pasta, then drain and rinse briefly under cold running water. Set aside.
2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a paste, and cook for 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Add the milk, a bit at a time, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
3. Stir in the goat cheese until thoroughly blended. Stir in 4 cups cheddar and cook until melted and smooth. Stir in the green chile, adding more to taste. Season to taste with about 1 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.
4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir in the panko bread crumbs. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved cheddar cheese.
5. Stir the cooked pasta into the cheese mixture and spoon it into the prepared baking dish, evening the top with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake until the mixture is beginning to brown and bubble, about 40 minutes.