Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hatch chilies in scalloped potatoes and gruyere cheese

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If ever there is too short a season for a flavorful vegetable it has to be Hatch pepper season.  Two to three weeks is all we get and if you’re not paying attention, you might miss the call of these extraordinary chilies.  The arrival of Hatch chilies from New Mexico around mid-August is a much anticipated event in Houston.   It’s when my favorite grocery stores, Central Market and H.E.B roll out the rotating cages, crank up the fires and for a few lively weeks excite our senses during the Hatch Chile Festival. 

The aroma of roasting Hatches emanating from the parking lots act as a magnet to pepper lovers miles away.   As if we haven’t already perspired enough through the hot and humid summer, the Hatch heat index sweats our foreheads and clears our sinuses with spice levels from mild to very hot.   Live music adds to the festivities and a feeling of merriment and well-being follows!   In what must be a highly lucrative operation, Central Market has included Hatch chilies in products such as sausage, guacamole, meatballs, crab cakes, tortilla chips, bread and even granola and brownies.   They know a good thing when they see it!

A good char intensifies the deep rich green flesh and easily releases the thin skin.  Because the Hatch’s flesh is delicate, a quick tumble in the cage over flames for only 7 –10 minutes is all it takes.   I let the experts roast mine every year and purchase several pounds.  They freeze well and I plan to enjoy them in soups, stews and omelets for months to come.  

Hatch chilies are not a seed variety but are named after the village of Hatch in southern New Mexico around which they are farmed.  Considered to be the chili capital of the world, the area exports over 250,000 chilies to Texas alone!   For a recent family gathering I decided to add chopped roasted hatch peppers to scalloped potatoes.    The chilies complemented the sharpness of the gruyere, and the cream…enough said!  

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Hatch chilies in scalloped potatoes and gruyere cheese

8 russet potatoes, peeled, sliced crosswise as thin as possible. This is a good time to use a mandoline slicer, if you own one.

4 cups whipping cream or half-and-half

5 -6 roasted Hatch chilies (spicy or mild), peeled, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

8 ounces gruyere cheese, coarsely grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Have a 9 x 13 casserole dish ready. Pour about 2 tablespoons of cream or half-and-half on the bottom of the dish and spread evenly.

Arrange potato slices evenly in a layer on the bottom of the dish. The potatoes should be touching but not overlapping each other. Sprinkle about 1 – 2 tablespoons of chilies on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of gruyere cheese on top of the chilies and potatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour about ½ cup of cream or half-and-half over cheese.

Continue layering potatoes, chilies, cheese, salt, pepper and cream. End with a layer of potatoes and then gruyere cheese. Pour the rest of the cream over the potatoes.

Heat oven to 400ºF. Cover the potatoes with foil. Bake for 1 hour.

After an hour, remove the foil. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork, the cream is set and the top is nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and allow potatoes to rest for about 10 minutes.

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  1. OMG! These look DELICIOUS!

  2. Wow, what a potato dish! I think a vendor who roasts chilies in one of those big roasters will be at our farmers market this weekend. If I can't get Hatch chilies I'm sure I can get something close, and then I'm going to make this. Holy cow, that looks good!

  3. Oh, Dragana, that looks delicious! I've got some roasted Hatch peppers I need to use and they're now earmarked for this recipe. Thanks! Great photos, btw!

  4. congratulations! this recipe looks and sounds so extraordinary! I will definitely make this and very soon. grazie mille! ciao, roz

  5. Dragana, I made this last night and it was delicious! Mine wasn't' nearly as photo-worthy as yours... but it sure did taste good! Thank you for another great recipe -

  6. Pam - thanks so much!
    Cathy - I'm know it will work with any chili you choose. Peppers have that special flavor.
    Lori - I'm glad you liked it.
    bella(roz) - prego!

  7. Oh my goodness, those scalloped potates with chiles & cheese look amazing!! Don't think Hatch chilies are available here in WI, but I can get poblanos. So glad I found you via Cook Eat Share.

  8. I know better 'n to look at your blog when I'm hungry :D. You should've piped up when I returned from New Mexico last month with 2 big boxes of Hatches!! Most not shared have been turned into jelly/jam with a small few roasted & frozen. Margie, roasted poblanos would be Great in this!! They're one of my favorite peppers!


    I was searching on the Net today for Peanut Sauce recipes and found your pork satay recipe (which is now on our menu for this Friday) then, while browsing through, found this recipe. It reminds me so much of Potatoes Dauphinoise, a recipe originally from Grenoble, France. Instead of garlic and nutmeg, we like your idea of using the Hatch chiles! Other than the type of potato (we use Yukon Gold or new potatoes), the recipe already seems so familiar... with something of a New Mexican flavor, as it were. We will definitely try this soon and will report our results.
    Fortunately, we can get the chiles fresh roasted at the nearby Palisade, Colorado farmer's market.

  10. Thanks Margie and Claudia!
    Anonymous - thank you for visiting my blog. Your idea about using Yukon golds is great! I bet it will add to the creaminess of the whole dish, and the spice in the chiles will be a nice contrast. Report back!

  11. We did these earlier in the year, but added Texas 1015 sweet onions...really got a lot of compliments! We are thinking of adding some chopped ham this year....really is a great recipe to use as is or build on. Thanks!

  12. Fantastic! We also add sweet onions, a bit more garlic, and sometimes, ham...mmmmmmm!


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