Can you imagine one whole cookbook dedicated to simply one ingredient? I couldn’t. Then I opened Melissa’s HATCH CHILE Cookbook in which Sharon Herandez and Chef Ida Rodriguez guide us to the Land of Enchantment and show us we can have chiles for breakfast or lunch, as appetizers, for dinner, then desert and drinks! Say what? It’s true. New Mexico is the home to the Hatch Chile—a chile that will brighten all of the dishes we regularly prepare: omelets to s’mores. You can add them to batters or use in sauces, salsas, spreads, as a garnish or decoration.
My pantry always has several easy-to-grab cans of whole and diced “green” chiles. But what if I roasted and froze fresh chiles instead? Sounds easy enough, you only need do it once a year just after the chiles are harvested in later summer. They last up to two years frozen, albeit, we are warned they get hotter as they age, so be sure to taste before you use them liberally. Sounds like a great way to enhance the flavor of everything. A few easy instructions, some baggies and you’re ready to save your chiles and it sounds so much easier than canning. (Have you ever wondered why storing cooked vegetables or fruits, jams and jellies sealed in mason jars is called canning? Think I’ll go look that up :-)
I’m back with my “Spicy Ice Cubes and Ginger Ale” and looking forward to taste “as the ice cubes melt, the drink will be come spicier.” [p.170]
According to Word Detective, at word-detective.com:
The use of “can” to mean “seal food in a glass jar” does seem illogical, until we note that the process of preserving food in cans uses roughly the same method you use in “putting up” food in jars, namely heating the food in the vessel to eliminate bacteria and then sealing the container with a vacuum. This method of preserving food was invented in the late 18th century by Nicolas Appert in France in response to a call by Napoleon Bonaparte for a system of supplying French troops with preserved food that could both be easily transported. … The word “can,” by the way, comes from the Latin “canna” (meaning “container”), … Then they figured out the “tin can” container but that wasn’t really feasible at home. Would you believe a tinsmith, John Mason invented the Mason jar in 1858, “a heavy glass jar with a threaded lid sealed by a rubber grommet, … and the simplicity and durability of his design has made the Mason jar the de facto standard of home canning ever since.
Sharon and Chef Ida have the better plan: roasting on a flame then freezing in baggies. I’ll be using their suggestion to add Hatch chiles to my dishes throughout the year. This cookbook is full of easy, straight-forward delicious recipes anyone can make. The greatest challenge is judging the right degree of heat to add so you’ll have to know your guests too-hot-preference and taste as you prepare. Hatch chiles are not as boring as California Chiles—not as hot as Jalapeños—they’re just right! I can’t wait to make the “Mango Hatch Rellenos with Mango-Chipotle Sauce” [p.141]. I’m sure friends will get a taste of the Hatch “Peanut Brittle” [p.164] at Christmas. And, if you run out of chiles before the next season, Melissa’s offers Hatch Chile Powder at Melissas.com. How cool is that? I mean… How Hot!