SALSA VERDE

It’s Hatch chile time!  About 2 weeks ago, Hatch chiles showed up at my local grocery store.  Central Market is holding its annual 18th Annual Hatch Chile Festival from August 7-20.

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Chuy’s restaurants get in on the Hatch chile excitement too, with their 25th annual Green Chile Festival, which runs from August 19 to September 8.

The Hatch chile grows in the Hatch Valley, an area that stretches north and south along the Rio Grande in New Mexico.  It’s a “designer” chile, developed at New Mexico State University over the past 130 years specifically for conditions in the Hatch Valley.  The peppers come in mild, medium, hot, and extra hot, although you can’t tell how hot they are just by looking at them.  Extra hot chiles have the strongest chile fragrance.

When buying fresh Hatch chiles, look for bright green, symmetrical peppers.  The peppers should be firm, with smooth skin, and feel heavy for their size.

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http://www.centralmarket.com/hatch

For lots of interesting facts, photos, and videos about Hatch chiles, Hatch chile products, and scores of Hatch chile recipes, check out Central Market’s excellent website.

The smell wafting from the giant iron roasters in front of the grocery stores entices me to purchase bags of roasted chiles every year.  Usually I go home and stick them in the freezer, where they remain until they are destroyed by freezer burn months later.  But not this year!  Recently, I purchased a package of Frontera Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, and made green chile chicken and cheese enchiladas, which were quite a hit here.

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Using my bag of freshly-roasted Hatch chiles, I made my own salsa verde, based on a recipe adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.  It was surprisingly easy and surprisingly tasty, and I am already planning to go buy more roasted chiles and fresh tomatillos to make another batch or two to freeze.

SALSA VERDE
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Recipe type: Sauces
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos (10-12 medium), husked and rinsed
  • 3 fresh Hatch or serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Roast tomatillos and chiles, either by placing on grill or on a baking sheet under a broiler. Roast until blackened and blistered on one side, approximately 5 minutes, then turn over using tongs and roast the other side. Transfer tomatillos and chiles to a food processor or blender.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer onions and garlic to food processor or blender. Pulse to a rough-looking puree -- avoid overprocessing.
  3. Heat remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add puree and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes, until puree thickens and darkens slightly. Stir in the broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and season to taste with salt.

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Stir the puree constantly

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Salsa verde

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 Place shredded chicken and cheese on a corn tortilla

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 Roll ’em up, spread a little sauce on the bottom of a baking dish,

and place seam side down 

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 Cover with sauce and sprinkle with additional cheese

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 Bake at 350 degrees approximately 20 minutes,

until heated through and cheese is melted

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