If you want to try Hatch chiles, you'd better move fast. These big, meaty green chiles (above) are only here for a short time. In New Mexico where they come from, people buy huge quantities during the season, then roast and store them in the freezer.
I just finished roasting 5 pounds, a nice stash to have on hand for chile verde, rajas and many other dishes.
Roasting improves the flavor. It also softens and shrinks the chiles so that I could stuff almost the entire five pounds into a single large plastic storage bag.
But I didn't freeze all of the chiles. Instead, I used a few in a chicken dish from "Melissa's Hatch Chile Cookbook," new this year from Melissa's/World Variety Produce. You can read more about the book in the story I wrote for LA Weekly's Squid Ink. Want a copy? Melissa's site tells how to get it. It's also on Amazon.
The recipe below is the way it appears in the book. You can vary it as I did, using less chicken and more potatoes, browning the chicken separately and then placing it in a baking dish with the other ingredients.
BAKED CHICKEN AND YUKON POTATOES
From Melissa's Hatch Chile Cookbook
1 (3-pound) fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Herbed sea salt
Freshly ground rainbow peppercorns
7 tablespoons canola oil
6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed and seeded
1 cup roma tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse the chicken pieces under cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Season the chicken pieces all over with the herb salt and pepper.
Set a large roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the canola oil and heat the pan until the oil shimmers. Carefully add the chicken pieces to the pan and sear on all sides until golden brown.
Add the potatoes and cut-up chiles to the pan, placing them in between the chicken pieces. Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil and garlic. Season with additional herb salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the cheese and drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of canola oil over the chicken and vegetables.
Cover and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.
Makes 6 servings.