Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hatch Chilies: tastes good but a pain in the a**

Have you ever heard of the Hatch Chili??

I have only started hearing about this chili in the past year...usually from New Mexicans or serious foodies with an inkling for the heat. These chilies are supposed to be the best chili grown in the US, with exceptional flavor and i guess more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice. So what were my boyfriend and i to do when several Southern California grocers decided to sell and roast Hatch Chilies?
Our "adventure" started 3 weeks ago at a La Habra Albertsons. Arriving pretty early on a Sunday morning we were told that the store had ran out, in fact they had sold 12,000 pounds of chilies in a few hours! Who knew!
So to ensure we would be able to get our hands on at least one case, we decided to show up at the next roasting-a Bristol Farms in Newport Beach. There we were, 6am in a deserted parking lot, hair disheveled from only getting 3 hours of sleep waiting for these damn chilies.
Well i guess the residence of Newport Beach still have no idea about how great these chilies are because we were the only people there when the store opened. There was probably more talk of how we sat in the parking lot for 2+ hours rather than the boxes of chilies on display-awesome.

It doesn't end here. It wasn't until after a full day of work, that i realized that i should do something about the chilies as we were not able to start preserving them until the following day. In a panic (of having them spoil or having bacteria start growing on them is not cool), we started peeling as many chilies as we could.
Have you ever seen the movie Dune (i know its bad!)? Remember when Paul (Kyle MacLachlan) puts his hand in the box and his skin started to melt off?
(yes Sting is in it too)

(could not find an image of the hand-box, but if you have seen the movie, you might appreciate this image!)
This is exactly what i started feeling after peeling wet chilies for 30 minutes. It became so bad that i started shaking and sweating from the pain. I could barely type, but i tried to look for a solution on-line. I tried everything: rubbing alcohol, tequila, baking powder/soda, lemon/lime juice, vinegar, eucalyptus/olive/grapeseed oil, frozen whipped cream, ice...basically anything i could get my hands on. Then i became thankful for that gallon of milk we bought last week for that cake i never got around for baking.

How to Get Rid of Pepper-Hands:

Wash hands VERY well (5+ times), in a large bowl, pour 1/2 gal of milk (enough to submerge hands), soak for 30 min. Replace with more cold milk (feels good!) and the pain should go away in about 20 min.

The next day we processed the chilies into a pepper-paste which took 4 people and 4+ hours to prepare. I have to tell you they are a pain in the a@*, but after all of that trouble, they are very good! i have 2 cases of preserved chili paste and after all of this work, it is not cheap.


Tom Dowling and Lisa Dowling said...

I once went to a chili cook-off in Hatch, New Mexico, and the flavor of those chilies was the ambrosia that perfumed all the selections. They make an enchilada sauce of them, available at Henry's market.

fancypants said...


Kyle McLaughlin rules.

The spread is so delish, it was worth the pain!!!