It's Hatch Chile Season Again
Austin celebrates the seasonal pepper
By Virginia B. Wood, 12:30PM, Thu. Aug. 7
We Austinites pride ourselves on our love for chiles as much as we brag about our tolerance for the summer heat. That's why we willingly surrender to the invasion of thousands of pounds of big green chiles from the agricultural area around tiny Hatch, New Mexico every summer.
Chile season starts in August and representatives of local grocery stores, restaurants, and artisan food makers have already secured their yearly supply. Central Market alone brings in more than 125 tons a year. Look for fresh and roasted Hatch chiles at area Whole Foods Markets starting this weekend or pick up fresh peppers at Fiesta stores. Wheatsville Co-op is currently working to find a supplier.
Meanwhile, here are some of the most popular invasion sites.
Central Market's 19th Annual Hatch Chile Festival
Aug. 6-19 at both stores
Austin's gourmet grocer indulges in all things Hatch for the next couple of weeks. Look for both fresh and roasted peppers in the stores – as well as all kinds of freshly prepared items such as Hatch hummus, cheese and Hatch pepper loaf, and Hatch crab cakes. Where packaged foods are concerned, the Original Tex-Mex Hatch Chile Queso, Primizie's Hatch Chile Crispbread, and Robert Rothschild Hatch Pasta Sauce are but a few of the choices. Central Market's extensive online recipe collection also offers many Hatch-inspired dishes for the home cook.
The Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar) gets into the act too, with a class featuring the "Pope of Peppers" himself, Dave DeWitt. The chile expert will demonstrate techniques for roasting, peeling, and storing chiles and prepare some recipes from his new book, Dishing Up New Mexico - 145 Recipes from the Land of Enchantment. The cost of the book is included in the class registration and the author will be glad to personalize them.
Not to be outdone, on weekends during the festival, the Westgate (4477 S. Lamar) store will offer a tent in the parking lot offering popular street food items like Hatch corn dogs, funnel cakes, and pork tacos.
Chuy's 26th Annual Green Chile Festival
Aug. 18 - Sept. 7 at all five locations
Every year, Chuy's develops special appetizers, entrees, and cocktails to showcase the wonderful flavor of Hatch chiles. Look for green chile BBQ chicken tacos, Frito Pie enchiladas, and a New Mexican Martini with green chile-infused Tequila, just to name a few. They'll be giving away green chile seed packets in the store and encouraging Instagram postings at @chuysrestaurant tagged #pepperheaven for a chance to win free meals for a year.
Z'Tejas Hatch Chile Festival
Sept. 2 - 14 at all three local outlets
Z'Tejas enhances their flavorful Southwestern cuisine with Hatch chile dishes every fall. The hatch chile onion rings are always one of the big hits from the appetizer list. This year, we're particularly interested in trying the carnitas enchiladas and the pork verde relleno.
Whole Foods Market Hatch Chile Roast
Aug. 16 at all local outlets
During the Hatch season, Whole Foods is working chiles into everything from gelato to kale salad. We're looking forward to trying the Achiote crab stuffed Hatch rellenos with avocado creme at the seafood eatery. In addition, Aug. 16 brings a storewide Hatch chile roast with tons of samples.