After our August summer hiatus, Special Fork is back! Truth be told, our hiatus isn’t the time we go on vacation. We do that in the spring or fall and we blog, tweet and Instagram through it. (This fall, expect some posts from Hawaii.)
No, our hiatus is our time to stay home and chill.
Even on hiatus, we couldn’t stay away from Molly Stone’s Castro market on a sweltering Sunday, having been invited to the store’s Hatch Chile event, with an offer of complementary chiles to experiment with on our blog. The beautiful green chiles were roasting, tumbling in the rotating propane drum until blackened, sending out the most irresistible aromas. A variety of dishes made from these renowned chiles were being sampled.
Authentic New Mexico Hatch Chiles, distributed by Melissa’s Produce, have a short growing season and are only available in August and September. During the two months, on an appointed day, the chile roaster makes its appearance at each Molly Stone’s store.
If you go to the store on a different day or to a different market selling Hatch Chiles, you can still buy the chiles and broil them at home to blacken the skin. But it’s a lot more fun—and more efficient—to let them do it for you in the roaster, at no extra charge. In the Bay Area, Molly Stone’s remaining Hatch Chile roasting days are in Sausalito (September 12), Burlingame (September 13), San Mateo (September 19) and Palo Alto (September 20). Check the website for times and details.
Once roasted, the Hatch Chiles are packed in a plastic bag and allowed to steam from the residual heat. When they’re cool enough to handle, the skins will slip off and the chiles are ready to use. If not used within a few days, these roasted chiles can be frozen to enjoy later.
For more about Hatch Chiles (selecting, storing and roasting) and a recipe for our family favorite, Chiles Rellenos, please check my post from last year. We love this dish so much that I doubled the recipe this year and five of us managed to eat the entire thing at one sitting.
Some other good ways to use Hatch Chiles are in:
- Mexican rice
- Mac and cheese
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Omelets and frittatas
And of course, cornbread!
Bacon, Hatch Chile and Cheese Cornbread
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornmeal
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
½ cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
½ cup roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped Hatch Chiles (about 3 large)
Heat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9- X 9-inch baking pan.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned and crisp; remove bacon with a slotted spoon and when cool enough to handle crumble roughly; reserve bacon fat.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Measure out bacon fat, adding enough oil or melted butter to make ¼ cup. In a medium bowl, add fat, eggs and milk; whisk to combine.
Add fat mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix.) Gently stir in cheese, chiles and bacon. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool slightly before cutting into squares.
Makes one 9- X 9-inch pan.
Recipe adapted from Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook by Sharon Hernandez and Chef Ida Rodriguez.
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