Have you ever tried a Hatch Chile Pepper? If you have, you probably know why these special peppers have a devoted (some say even fanatical) cult following. Hatch Chile Peppers look like many other long green peppers (they look just like Anaheim peppers), but to be called a Hatch Chile Pepper it has to have been grown in New Mexico’s fertile Hatch Valley. What makes Hatch chiles different? Hatch enthusiasts say the special taste comes from the climate: just the right balance of intense sunlight, rich Rio Grande River soil and the cool desert nights.
Hatch chile season comes right at the end of summer, and people tend to make a party out of roasting them when they arrive. Right now, Melissa’s Produce and Bristol Farms markets have been hosting Hatch Chile Pepper roasting events all throughout Southern California and Arizona (check the Hatch Chile Pepper roasting dates here).
This week, we had the good fortune to visit a Hatch roasting at Roe Restaurant and Fish Market in Long Beach, where Chef Arthur Gonzalez got an early start cooking up Hatch-related menu items to hungry and curious customers. While the giant rotary roaster rolled out perfect roasted chiles, we sat outside and enjoyed a Hatch breakfast burrito (eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese, and Hatch chiles).
But the big question is – do kids eat them? Hatch chiles come in mild and hot varieties. Even though our 8-year-old assistant (surprisingly) preferred the hot peppers, we think most kids would prefer the mild variety. Their texture is meaty, and they are a little smoky in flavor, but they’re mild enough not to scare anyone away. What’s the best way to eat them? There are so many ways to answer that question, but, as one Hatch aficionado told us, “The simpler, the better.”
We got the cream cheese/tortilla suggestion from Melissa’s and we liked the idea so much we decided to do it ourselves. The result? A lovely little Hatch-etizer that even kids can enjoy.
Hatch Chile Pinwheels
4 small corn tortillas
4 T. cream cheese, softened
1 roasted Hatch chile, peeled and sliced
Optional: Cilantro for garnish
Toast or steam the tortillas until they are hot and pliable. Quickly spread the cream cheese over each tortilla. Take Hatch chile slices and distributed them evenly over the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and slice on the diagonal to reveal the pinwheel design. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 4.