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lurking in the freezer

Recipe: blue cornmeal-crusted green chiles

On the way into the house the other day, Jeremy and I paused to admire a salsify puffball in our yard. It’s a weed. People always call them giant dandelions, but they are salsify. I like the weeds that grow in my yard. Sometimes I think people worry so much about things they want, things they don’t have, that they overlook those wonderful, simple gifts that are right under their noses.

a gift

My freezer is no different. In the heat of summer, that door opens and closes – a parade of liquids marching in and frozen treats marching out. Every time I have to make room for a new batch of frozens, I engage in the nontrivial task of rearranging the contents of the freezer. Sometimes I’ll delve into the depths of the freezer and unearth (read: rediscover) amazing finds. Delightful little gems… This week?

roasted hatch green chiles

topped, skinned, deseeded

I covet these green chiles. Each October the state of New Mexico goes gangbusters with the chile harvest. Yeah yeah, I’ve seen peppers roasting at farmer’s markets in California and in Colorado, but with the exception of Pagosa Springs, they were roasting Anaheims and Poblanos, NOT Hatch green chiles, and there is a difference. My aunt lives near Santa Fe and scores me several bags each year. I usually break into one bag immediately and then squirrel the rest away. It isn’t until summer when I realize that October is not that far off and I’d better make some headway into these green chiles so I can make room for MORE come autumn.

dredge in blue cornmeal

pan fry

I think it might have been last fall when we visited my in-laws and they had fresh roasted green chiles at the markets. We had green chiles in everything for one lovely dinner. But my favorite dish was a nifty appetizer of green chiles crusted in blue cornmeal, lightly fried and served with stuff. Stuff is the technical term for accompaniments, but I don’t recall what they were. I just remember how enamored I was with the green chiles.

let drain on a cooling rack (not on paper towels)

makes for a great appetizer

Of course, the longer they sit in the freezer, the spicier they get. That’s the nature of these chiles. I found them to be perfectly spicy (these were mediums, I have a few bags of milds that I reserve for last). I also wanted to try it in a taco (corn, I can never get enough of the corn) with some carne adovada and crumbled queso fresco.

set two chiles on a lightly fried corn tortilla

a little carne adovada

It was good, but I definitely feel the chiles are best on their own. I think the carne adovada is spicy enough to overpower the subtle flavor of the green chiles. My guess is that a milder filling (chicken?) would have paired better in this taco or just cheese and chiles on a corn tortilla.

taco, mojito, patio

Blue Cornmeal-Crusted Green Chiles
[print recipe]

1 dozen large Hatch green chiles, roasted (fresh is best, but frozen roasted chiles are fine too – just let them thaw)
1 cup blue cornmeal
vegetable oil for frying

Hatch chiles tend to get spicier over time in the freezer. For that reason, it might be best to handle the chiles with a pair of disposable gloves over your hands. Lop off the tops, peel the skins (shouldn’t be difficult to remove the charred skins from roasted chiles) and carefully slice the chiles open down one side to create a single sheet of flesh from each one. Remove all of the seeds. Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan over medium high flame. One by one, dip each chile into the cornmeal and press to coat both sides. Gently place the chiles in the hot oil in a single layer (take care not to overcrowd – I fried 3-4 at a time). After a minute or two, flip the chiles and continue to fry until golden brown on both sides. Add more oil as necessary. Remove chiles from pan and set on a cooling rack (not on paper towels – that makes them soggy). Serve with grated cheese, salsa, and or guacamole. Or pile onto a corn tortilla with cheese and salsa. Serves 4.

30 nibbles at “lurking in the freezer”

  1. Sean says:

    ZOMG yum. I need to get me some Hatch chiles pronto. Legend has it that Green Chile Kitchen here in SF will sell them over the counter.

  2. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    Ditto on the weeds – I just wrote about the edible purslane weed (verdolaga) in Spanish. Is there a reason you don’t peel your chiles before you freeze them? Growing up my family and I’d be safe to say most Mexicans remove the skins before we store them in the freezer. Gorgeous green chile taco, BTW.

  3. DessertForTwo says:

    I am IN LOVE with Hatch chiles. Ever since I vacationed there with my parents when I was a child, I remember the smell of the chiles roasting. This dish is right up my alley! I love love love blue cornmeal. I brought a bag of it with me back from Texas and I’ve been waiting to use it. Thanks!

  4. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Taco, mojito, patio AND those awesome chiles…count me in!

  5. Shanon says:

    yes, there is nothing better than nm green chiles. i lived in nm for a summer and we had green chiles on EVERYTHING.

  6. Jeanne says:

    Hi Jen, I got a shot of what I thought was a “giant dandelion” up at the National Forest before the workshop. Thanks for filling me in on what it really was. Salsify? Hmm. My friend and I saw some just outside the market in Nederland too, I think. They are just beautiful.

  7. Recipe for Delicious says:

    That dandelion picture is breathtaking. Just magical.
    I will be happy for my freezer, but I will look longingly at your chiles because such wonderful things are not found in small-town Nova Scotia.

  8. Paula says:

    what a great meal! yummy!

  9. Brit says:

    These look absolutely fantastic.

  10. Sheryl says:

    We went to Santa Fe last fall and brought back a bag. We roasted them and froze them and then forgot about them. We just had some last weekend and boy were they hot! I didn’t know they got hotter after being frozen. They are delicious!

  11. Kitt says:

    Oh! That’s a good idea. I bought a bushel of chiles a couple years back and I’m almost out now. I’ll have to remember this for the next batch.

    FYI, I just saw this news item: Prolonged cool springtime temperatures followed by a heat wave in June add up to a delayed and likely smaller New Mexico chile harvest, growers say.

    They’re talking mid-August for first harvests now. I’ll let you know when I start seeing the chile stands pop up here.

    Also: Danise Coon, program coordinator and researcher with the New Mexico Chile Pepper Institute, said the organization is preparing to host an international pepper conference that will draw researchers from around the world. It’s slated for Sept. 12-14.

  12. Abby says:

    Good call on the gloves. One time I, uh, didn’t wear gloves then RUBBED MY EYES. And almost died.

    The blue cornmeal is also a nice touch! Looks great.

  13. Mrs Ergül says:

    Lovely Lovely! You are always so well prep for all that is to come! Hence, the gloves!

    A beautiful weed! Never seen anything like this before!

  14. Scott E says:

    I just had these tonight at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo, NM!…I know the Range has a cookbook with a recipe for this exact dish (with jalapeno dipping stuff)…perhaps the origin of this recipe?

  15. Dominique says:

    Hello! Great post, thank you. I just want to let you know that “adobada” is spelt with a “b”.

  16. Kristin says:

    That shot of the salsify is gorgeous!

  17. Dragana says:

    Our local Central Market announces the arrival of these flavorful chiles by hosting the Hatch Chile Festival in August every year. The parking lot oozes with the smell of spicy Hatch peppers roasting in large rotating barrels as the band plays. It’s quite the occasion for a grocery store!

  18. Dgrub says:

    There’s nothing better to munch off than deep fried green chilies by itself. However, combined with Carne Adovada With pork and all its spices seems out of this world. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Wei-Wei says:

    That blue cornmeal looks fantastic! What a strange colour for food, but strangely attractive.


  20. Jaya says:

    That photo is breathtaking. Breathtaking.

  21. Judy says:

    Every year, in late summer, the UNM alumni association holds a chile roast for displaced New Mexicans. Lucky for me, it’s always held just down the road from where I live! They import Hatch green chiles and roast them while everyone picnics. I remember freezing them when I lived in Albuquerque, and the chiles would get hotter as the winter went by.

    I was in Santa Fe two weeks ago and treated myself to lunch at my favorite restaurant. Blue corn tortillas, red chile sauce, posole, yum.

    (And it is adovada with a v — authority: all my NM cookbooks)

  22. Linda says:

    Your timing is perfect! Just this morning I took my sister & niece to the airport for their return to Santa Fe & Taos. I have been promised a box of roasted chiles when they come in. I’ll have to ask them about Hatch chiles. I think they were just thinking New Mexican chiles. I’ve never heard of Hatch before. Can’t wait. Meanwhile, I might try your recipe with some of the chiles my sister-in-law brought me from Lancaster, PA. Hmnnn…,Amish chiles? Might not be appropriately ethnic, but good, never-the-less?

  23. keiko says:

    Jen, I’m literally drooling over right now – the recipe sounds divine and your images are just lovely. Thank you for your inspiration as always.

    I just love the first shot (as you may have guessed it ;)), so beautiful. xxx

  24. MollyCookie says:

    Those chilis look amazing! Very cool recipe. I love making things like this.

  25. soo says:

    Wow, the stuff that lurks in your freezer sure looks a lot more interesting than what lurks in mine! Love the blog and LOVE Kaweah!

  26. Ruth Ann says:

    Those chiles look soooo awesome. When my friend visits her home town of Taos, she comes back with an entire suitcase full of green chiles! She says she’d rather ship her clothes home so that she can bring home lots of green chiles.

  27. April in CT says:

    These look SO good I can almost taste them. YUM!! I was wondering, where did you get the little bowls the condiments are in on the plate? I have an unhealthy obsession with little bowls and I LOVE those!

  28. jenyu says:

    Sean – seriously? That’s awesome. I wish we had a local pusher… er supplier! ;)

    Andrea – mostly because they come to me already frozen and the skins are still on.

    Kitt – dang! I guess I’ll ask my aunt to keep her eyes peeled at the Santa Fe markets. Thanks for the info!

    Scott E – omg, I think you may be right! How awesome :) I’m sure if I asked my in-laws about the recipe they’d remember. I just always forget to ask (and they’re really really busy right now). Thanks!

    Dominique – actually, this recipe is SPELLED with a “v” per all of my New Mexico cookbooks.

    Judy – thank you!! :)

    Linda – most of the green chiles you get in NM are the Hatch green chiles. I think NM is the largest producer, so you’re probably good to go!

    April in CT – ha! I got them at Crate and Barrel for the Food and Light workshop. I couldn’t return them, so they ended up on my shelf ;)

  29. Nate says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. It’s easy, unique and extremely flavorful. My Super Bowl party hosts are excited that I’m bringing these on Sunday.

  30. Mike says:

    There has been a lively discussion on the New Mexico Recipes FaceBook page about freezing chile. Leaving the skins on adds a lot of the flavor which is developed when they are roasted but it remains an individual preference. Few New Mexicans will refer to themselves as Mexicans.
    Are you trying to reserve more of the Hatch Green Chile harvest for yourself? The harvest can begin in late August and is in full swing around Labor Day. Google Hatch Chile Festival for more information. If you wait until October you will be out of luck, and chile. When buying chile look for the logos and buy only Certified New Mexico Chile. What kind of chile do you prefer, Red or Green? New Mexico’s Official State Question is “Red or Green?” and your server should ask you that when you order. I usually ask for Christmas, on the side.
    I will get to try this recipe out for Valentines day.
    Thank You, it looks great.

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