Hatch is here & it’s time to stock up on everyone’s favorite chile pepper! There’s a special shelf in my freezer that’s designated for all the chiles I will roast over the next few weeks so that I don’t run out until next year. Most of the time I will roast them and puree, so I can later use them for sauce, but a few I will roast and leave whole so they can be stuffed, sliced or chopped into various sizes to put on pizza, burgers, tacos or sandwiches.
I like that the Hatch pepper heat is subtle and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of what I am making. Throughout the year I probably use them more than any other hot pepper. Here are some tips for your pepper prep and storage:
- Roast whole under the broiler or directly on the flame of a gas stove. For an added smoky flavor you can roast them on the grill or in the smoker. Just cook them enough to blister and char because whatever you are using them in they are usually cooked again later.
- While roasting or broiling, get each one into a big plastic bag as soon as they are blistered on all sides. Quickly close the bag and carry on with the remaining peppers. Once they’re all in the bag, keep it closed for 20 minutes. This will make removing the skins very easy. You can also rub the bag between your hands and that will help the skins begin to peel. Pull the skins off by hand or rinse them off.
- After removing the skins you can freeze them whole or cut off the tops and clean out the seeds to puree. Freeze the whole peppers individually on a tray and then transfer to a plastic bag for storage. This will make it easier later when you only need one or two. For the puree, fill sandwich bags with 1 cup of puree, push out the air and then freeze the bags flat. Later you can put all the small bags into one large one.
- A general rule is that 1 average size pepper will equal 1/4 cup chopped or pureed. This will help you plan how many peppers to purchase and freeze. I usually add 1 cup of pureed hatch chiles to my enchilada sauce when I make enchiladas so that means I need 4 peppers for each time I make chicken enchiladas. If you make enchiladas as often as I do, you may need a bigger freezer.
Of course, the other fun thing about Hatch season is all the ways FRESH uses Hatch chiles throughout the store. There are stuffed peppers in meat & seafood, Hatch sausages made in-house, Hatch-crusted rotisserie chicken and Hatch bread in the bakery. That really only scratches the surface of all the creative ways they find to use Hatch chiles in the recipes they make for the chef-prepared case.
Once you’ve tried everything and you’re still craving more Hatch, here is a great pizza recipe that is satisfyingly spicy and creamy at the same time. I may start putting Hatch chiles on pizza all the time. Which means more room in the freezer for more Hatch!
Hatch Chile Pizza
3 Hatch chiles
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 FRESH Italian sausage links
1 Wewalka pizza crust (available in the dairy aisle)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Roast two of the Hatch chiles by placing under a broiler for 5 to 10 minutes or the open flame of a gas stove until the skin begins to blister and char on all side. Do not leave unattended. Place the chiles in a plastic bag, close tightly and let steam for 20 minutes. Before opening, rub the bag gently between your hands to begin loosening the skin. Rinse the chiles under water to help remove all of the skin. Cut off the tops and remove the seeds. Chop fine and place in a blender to puree.
Stir the chopped chiles into the ricotta and set aside. Remove the Italian sausage from the casing and place in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels.
Slice the remaining pepper that wasn’t roasted into thin, round slices. Discard the seeds. Unroll the pizza dough onto a baking sheet or pizza pan. Top with the ricotta mixture and spread evenly. Scatter the sausage over the top along with the mozzarella, sliced peppers, Parmesan and black pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.