New Mexican Hatch Chiles
Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: What’s the most flavorful way to get green New Mexican hatch chiles without breaking the bank? I’m pretty sure someone will mail me a case full of frozen ones on dry ice if I pay enough, but I’m not certain I’m willing.–Chile Deprived
Dear Chile Deprived: We assume you’re hankering for Hatch, Barker, Big Jim, or Sandia chiles, all of which are charred in the metal cages over gas flames or wood fires at seemingly every supermarket, farmers’ market, or outdoor fair in the state.
A quick online search shows that if you’re willing to buy frozen, roasted chiles, you’re often looking at about $9 a pound, standard shipping usually included. That said, those chiles could get sort of soggy. Which means that coveted flavor won’t be as intense. And then there’s the issue of whether you want to scrape mold off squishy chiles. So you’d need to ante up for overnight shipping—and even still, don’t expect the chiles to be at their best.
The way we see it, you’ve got two options here: 1) pony up to get those New Mexican chiles transported quickly, gasoline costs be damned; or 2) investigate the food scene around where you live so you can make friends across the country drool at your local bounty, just as you pine for the New Mexico harvest, so you can propose a swap. (Here’s how it works: Find New Mexican foodies via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Lurk. Leer. Stalk. Then start talking up something from your area. Once those New Mexicans are salivating, offer to send them something from your area that’s exquisitely local…and mention you’ll take roasted chiles for payment.)
Yep, it’ll cost you. Blame the government. (Everyone else is these days.) It’s not the cost of the food; it’s the shipping. You can also get roasted Hatch chiles in a dried, pulverized form which you can then use as part of a spice blend in a stew or braise. Actually, you can sprinkle that powdery heat over just about everything from scrambled eggs to enchiladas. Okay, not over ice cream. Let’s be reasonable. And there’s always jarred roasted Hatch chiles and Hatch chile salsa in the event you’re late in reading this and suffering from FOMO.
Since the big chile fest in New Mexico isn’t until September, you’ve got some time to ponder your options—as well as save up. [Editor’s Note: The annual Hatch Chile Festival has been canceled for 2020.]
Know this as well: you’re asking for something that’s guaranteed to send shivers up the collective spines of foodistas when you opt for an intensely local ingredient delivered to a destination far, far removed from its origins. Don’t let certain West Coast chefs get wind of your plans.
Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Curious to learn more solutions to culinary conundrums? Just ask! Drop us a comment below.