For several years late each August I’ve wanted to order a big pile of New Mexico green chiles from one of the growers near Hatch, New Mexico, and then make all my favorite green chile-based recipes, especially green chile stew and enchilada casserole. I finally slayed the sloth dragon this year, but with a lot of help from a local grocery store.
First, I did the obligatory Internet research. I found a couple of good options for roasted and frozen green chiles shipped next day or second day air, but the cost was almost too much for me to bear. I really wanted 20 pounds, but that would have set me back anywhere from $150 to $250, depending on shipping. I even checked in with relatives in Albuquerque, but I knew that the majority of the cost was due to shipping. Since none of them own FedEx or UPS, the total cost was going to be very high even if they bought the chiles for me from a local roaster.
My plan this morning was to compromise and order ten pounds online tomorrow. I decided to take one last look online to see if by some odd chance there was a local restaurant or grocery store that had made a huge bulk order and was hoping to find enough chile addicts like myself to take them off their hands.
Luckily, I found a thread on Chowhound about how Raley’s and Nob Hill Foods were selling Hatch green chiles. Even better, they’re selling the chiles for 78 cents per pound for fresh or roasted. That’s an order of magnitude cheaper then what I was about to pay to have them shipped to me.
But it gets better. The new Nob Hill Foods in Alameda was one of the handful of stores that was roasting the peppers in a big roaster.
I immediately headed over and ordered twenty pounds. Thirty minutes later, a guy wheeled out a shopping cart with a waxed chile shipping box containing a trash bag full of my fragrant chiles. When I got them out to the car I plunged my head into the opening of the bag and inhaled the sweet, smoky essence of roasted chiles.
I bought the medium chiles, which are presumably Big Jims. They also had mild (NM 6-4?) and hot (Sandia?). One caution about the mediums is that they vary from mild to hot. The first one I nibbled on was fairly mild, but the next one was very spicy. If you use a couple in a recipe, though, odds are you will get a nice depth of flavor and spiciness from the blending of the mild with the hot.
Tonight I made a green chile salsa recipe using a recipe from Mark Miller. It tasted pretty good, but I think it needs to sit a little longer for the flavors to blend. As an extra bonus, I managed to peel and seed ten chiles without once reaching up and transferring capsaicin into a tear duct.