The Hatch Have Landed at Central Market
Let’s face it: August in North Texas ain’t for the faint of heart! Temperatures and tempers rise, and kids go back to school. (And doesn’t it seem unfair that, given the nature of last year, this summer’s vacation only lasted two months?)
There is, however, one bright spot in this wretched month – the annual Hatch chile harvest! Central Market, of course, is the grandaddy of all things Hatch in town. After all, HEB introduced those gorgeous green pods to Texas over 25 years ago! In honor of the best part of summer (in my extraordinarily humble opinion), I’ve come up with three new recipes featuring my beloved Hatch chiles.
Hatch Chile and Peach Relish
This easy relish combines two of the best tastes of summer: peaches and Hatch chiles. I made a big batch and froze a bunch for those dark winter nights when a little summer sunshine is needed to brighten up the dinner table.
2 pounds peaches or nectarines, peeled* and roughly chopped
2 hot Hatch chiles, stem removed and finely chopped (I leave the ribs and seeds in because I want the spicy kick, but you can remove them or simply use mild chiles)
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Juice of one lime
¼ cup packed brown sugar (taste your peaches before to see how sweet they are and adjust accordingly)
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until the peaches have broken down, and the relish is thickened. Removed from heat and cool. This will store in the refrigerator for about a week and in the freezer for up to six months. Serve over grilled or roasted meats and seafood. (Try it on grilled tuna!)
*To peel peaches or nectarines, bring a small saucepan to a rolling boil. On the blossom end of the fruit (not the stem end), make a small X just through the skin with a paring knife. One at a time, drop the fruit into the boiling water, count to 30, and remove to a large bowl of ice water. Remove the fruit from the ice water, and the skin should slip right off! This also works on tomatoes.
Sweet Potato and Hatch Soup
I know it’s hot outside, and no one wants soup right now. I always get a bunch of the roasted Hatch chiles from Central Market and peel and de-seed them. Then I freeze them in one cup containers, so I can use them throughout the year. This is a wonderful winter dinner!
4 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ yellow onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup roasted Hatch chiles, peeled, deseeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream
Chopped cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled panela or queso fresco for garnish
In a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium high heat, combine the sweet potatoes, broth, onion, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove. You can either use an immersion blender or a traditional blender to blend the soup smooth. However, if you use a traditional blender, be careful! Work in batches and cover the mouth of the blender with a clean kitchen towel instead of the blender top. The blender top will cause the hot air in the blender to build up, and the pressure will cause a geyser effect. (Trust me, I’ve cleaned soup off my kitchen ceiling before!) If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin with a little water.
Once the soup is blended, return it to the pot and return the pot to the stove. Stir in the Hatch chiles, ground cumin, ground coriander, and heavy cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Allow each person to garnish their soup as they like. This makes enough for four as a main dish.
Zucchini and Hatch Chile Hoecakes
I love these. They are great as a side dish or all by themselves. They’re even great for breakfast!
1 ½ cup finely ground cornmeal (I like yellow cornmeal, but use what you can find)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup boiling water
½ cup milk (just use what you have in the fridge – you can even use plant milks in these)
1 large zucchini, stem and blossom end removed
1 Hatch chile, hot or mild, finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon canola or avocado oil
Chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, butter, and/or Mexican crema for garnish
Preheat the oven to 250°.
In a bowl, combine the cornmeal and salt. Pour the boiling water over and stir to combine. Let this sit so that the cornmeal absorbs the water and thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes.
While the cornmeal is softening, grate the zucchini on the large side of a box grater into a clean kitchen towel. Gather up the towel and gently squeeze to remove the excess moisture from the zucchini.
Once the cornmeal has thickened, gradually add the milk into the cornmeal while stirring. You want a batter that is thick but spreadable. Stir in the grated zucchini, Hatch chile, and shallot.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add in the canola or avocado oil. Add in about a ¼ cup of the batter at a time, and cook until the edges are turning golden, about 3 to five minutes. Flip the johnnycake over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Keep the johnnycakes warm in the preheated oven on an ovenproof plate or baking sheet. Serve with butter or Mexican crema and garnish with green onions and cilantro.