Friday, April 25, 2014

Authentic Hatch Green Chiles: Southwest Green Chile Strata and Garlic, Green Chile and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

My parents always told me to take responsibility for the mistakes I make in life, so I am calling myself out for one that I made last August. It's not really that big of a deal I guess . . .  unless you come from the Hatch Valley that is.

The Hatch Valley is an area in New Mexico stretching north and south along the Rio Grande River, from Arrey in the north to south of the village of Hatch. The favorable soil and climate conditions in this area contribute to the desirable flavor of the green chiles that are grown here and have made this area famous. Only chiles that are grown in this area can truly be called Hatch.

Starting in late summer and extending through the early fall, the air in the southwest part of the United States is thick with the scent of roasting chiles. Markets everywhere set up big mesh drums and fill them with green chiles. The drum is turned over and over as the chiles are roasted over a hot flame. Between the roasting and the tumbling, the skins are burned and removed, leaving behind a tender, smoky, skinless chile and an intoxicating, spicy aroma in the air.

In celebration of chile time last year I posted a recipe for Green Chile Cheese Dip. To illustrate this dish I posted a photo of a handful of chiles resting on a white plate. I identified these chiles as Hatch thinking that they were, and to be quite honest I thought if not what the heck, a chile looks like a chile right? Who would care anyway?

Well, as it turned out someone out there cared a lot. Preston with The Hatch Chile Store somehow found my blog and my mistake and left me a comment correcting me, which did sting just a bit, but I deserved it for being careless and identifying "Buenos" as "Hatch".

After a couple of e-mails back and forth, my new favorite saying, "Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station" was proven to me as Preston offered to send me some of the authentic Hatch chiles from his company. He didn't have to ask twice, and before I knew it 5 pounds of delicious roasted, peeled and frozen, medium heat, authentic Hatch chiles were on my doorstep.

Garlic, green chile and sharp cheddar mashed potatoes. No recipe needed for this one. Just cube and boil 4 large potatoes in salted water with 3 cloves garlic. When soft, drain and mash together with a little butter, sour cream and pepper. Fold in some sharp cheddar and lots of green chiles. 

Since receiving this box a few days ago, we have eaten them in and on EVERYTHING. My husband is a happy man with all this green chile testing going on. So far his favorite recipe has been the garlic, green chile and sharp cheddar mashed potatoes that we had last night. Even though I loved those too, my favorite has to be the southwest flavored strata that we had for Easter brunch. The medium heat chiles that I received add the perfect pepper flavor (with just a spark of heat) to everything I have added them to.

Thanks to Preston and The Hatch Chile Store, I now have a couple of packages of these authentic and delicious chiles in my freezer to use whenever I want. If you are like me and missed the chance to put some away for the off season, you are not out of luck. The Hatch Chile Store is a great source for both fresh or frozen chiles. You can order frozen chiles now, which they are happy to ship to your door, or preorder fresh chiles for the 2014 season.

So as you can see my mistake worked out to the benefit of everyone in the end. I now have a bunch of chiles to play with, Mr. H can now have chiles on everything and you have a great source for fresh or frozen authentic Hatch chiles. In fact this worked out so well I might just give misidentifying Dom Perignon or beluga caviar a try and see how that works. On second thought, maybe not. I really hate making mistakes.

Southwest Green Chile Strata

I often serve this for brunch but find that it is just as delicious for an evening meal. Don't worry if this looks like more than you need, I guarantee you'll love the leftovers just as much as the first meal.

6 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed and cut into large cubes
4 medium to large size Hatch chiles, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
3 green onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar/jack cheese, divided
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
8 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half or whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Spray a 7" x 11" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the bread cubes in the baking dish. On top of that sprinkle the chiles, green onions, 1 cup of the cheese, and the cilantro leaves; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, half and half, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until it is a smooth and frothy consistency. Slowly pour over the bread cube mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap and place casserole in preheated oven. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until it is golden brown and puffy in the center. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Serves 6

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