Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Things We Do Between Trips: Hatch Chiles and Hot Stuff

This will appeal to all you lovers of spicy foods.  I am a true pepperhead but, unfortunately, Sandy is not so much.  Often when I cook spicy stuff, I make separate batches--one for me and one for normal people.  

As the legendary Hatch chile harvest is in full swing, our local Albertson's had received several cases of Hatch chiles and was selling them by the case for $19.99.  I couldn't resist.  Snagging a case, I proclaimed to Sandy that I would roast these suckers and freeze them, and we would have Hatch chiles all winter.  She was a bit muted in her enthusiasm, but she smiled sweetly anyway.

Once home with my prize and an afternoon to waste, I fired up the gas grill and my Traeger smoker and loaded up both with the Hatch chiles.

Traeger Smoker

Hatch Chiles on the Gas Grill
Now I should take this opportunity to tell you that, while I have roasted these peppers before on the gas grill, I had not previously tried to roast them on the Traeger, so this was, in fact, an experiment.  For those of you who are not familiar with Traeger grills, you can only hope that Santa brings you one this Christmas.  If there is a better or easier way to do outdoor BBQ, I can't imagine what it would be.  You just put wood pellets in the hopper and turn on the switch, setting the desired temperature.  The Traeger does everything else, from lighting the fire to feeding itself the wood pellets, keeping the cooking temperature you have selected.  Amazing!  (I told you I love gadgets!)

Traeger "Lil Tex" Smoker

Wood Pellet Hopper and Temperature Control
So why do I still have the gas (well, it's really propane) grill since I'm so ga-ga over the Traeger?  Well, if you're looking for the kind of direct heat that will develop a sear, char or crust on something, the Traeger is not very good at that.  So, what's better than one BBQ cooker gadget?  Well, two of course!

All went well with roasting the peppers on the gas grill, but not so much with the Traeger.  The problem was that the Traeger cooked the peppers without charring the outside (see above).  This is the opposite of what was desired--a char on the outside to loosen the skin, but with the flesh of the pepper left somewhat undercooked underneath.  Because of this, the peppers roasted in the Traeger were more difficult to peel and were skimpier after peeling.

Charring Desired When Roasting Complete on the Gas Grill

Skinning and Seeding the Cooked Peppers

The Final Product After Roasting, Peeling and Seeding

Chopping the Cooked Peppers in Food Processor
After roasting, peeling, seeding and chopping the peppers, it was time to prepare them for freezing in small portions.  First, we chopped them slightly in the food processor, then Sandy suggested that we freeze them in muffin tins and afterward place the frozen chile "muffins" in a freezer bag.  That sounded good to me, so that's what we did.  When we ran out of muffin tins, we froze the last few in foil cupcake papers placed on a cookie sheet.  We discovered this was the best way to go, as the cupcake papers were definitely easier to remove after freezing.

Chiles in Muffin Tins for Freezing
Well, that's about it for this chile adventure.  One note of caution:  We learned the hard way to use latex gloves when doing the peeling and seeding.  We didn't this time, and we regretted it.  Duh!

So, what will we be cooking with all these peppers?  Well, we'll be sharing some recipes with you as we go along.  And, of course, we'll be giving some to friends, as well.  

That's enough for now; I need to find something cold to drink!


  1. I have an aunt that pops hot, hot peppers like they were so many peanuts. No thanks; I'm a mild gal.

  2. Those look yummy! We have never tasted Hatch chili's. Maybe you will visit us in the RGV this winter and cook something spicy.
    We miss you guys and look forward to the next time we can get together.
    Hugs to both of you,
    Ed & Marilyn

  3. You and my husband would get along great!! He loves spicy also and I don't.

  4. We adore spicy foods... we eat spicy almost everyday in one form or another. So I'll be coming to your house for some HOT spicy
    Have fun & Travel safe

  5. MIke...

    There you go with the gadgets again!! :-)

    We'll soon be on the way east to sample the results of your efforts......


  6. spicy hot!!..have fun with getting rid of the smell from your hands!

  7. What a great idea of freezing them. You have just given me an idea for the peppers I bought. Thanks and can't wait to read some of the recipes.

  8. Our son would love the smoker! He's a heck of a better cook than me (dad) and anytime he can cook outdoors, he's up for it.

  9. As soon as I saw you using your bare hands with those peppers, I thought that just might be an issue. Don't go rubbing your eyes!

  10. Thank you for this. The only thing I have is a treager. I just got my 1st batch of hatch shipped to me and was gonna try to roast them on that. Guess I'll be using my camp chef and the oven racks. . :)

  11. Thank you for this. The only thing I have is a treager. I just got my 1st batch of hatch shipped to me and was gonna try to roast them on that. Guess I'll be using my camp chef and the oven racks. . :)

  12. Glad to meet a fellow Traveler/Wanderer who is not afraid to try different methods to accomplish what you want.
    Just wanted to let you know that it is really simple to Roast and Char/Blacken Chilies, (in this case fresh Hatch Chilies), using my Traeger Grill, 2016 PRO SERIES 34; appears to be similar to yours in the pictures.
    I brought home 10 lbs of the 2016 first harvest from Hatch, NM to Omaha, NE and tried looking up ways to Roast/Char/Blacken the skin for removal, before dicing and canning.
    Nowhere on the internet was there described a way to do this with a grill, except with Gas or Charcoal Grills; the only reference to using a Traeger Grill to do so was yours, so I wanted to share my GOOD experience with you, in case you decided to try it again in the future. Even the cookbook that I bought with my grill, nor Traeger's recipe website, did not suggest an alternative method.
    I knew there HAD to be a way to use my Traeger Grill to get the results I desired, especially since I sold both my half-barrel Charcoal and Gas grills when I brought home my Traeger Grill last Spring.
    It was so easy, I don't know why anyone else never published it, so here is what I did.
    I just removed the 'dripping catch pan/shelf', leaving the square 'diffuser' shield in place, replaced the grate and fired up my grill according to the standard method, then set the temperature to 'HIGH'.
    Next I prepared the chilies by washing, cutting a 1" slit in each to release steam and laid them out in a tight single layer on the grill grate and shut the lid until the temperature returned to it's highest setting, where I left it for about 10 minutes.
    I then opened the lid and turned the blackening/puffing chilies to the green side and shut the lid until the temperature returned to HIGH for about 5 minutes more.
    Once more I opened the lid and removed any 'done' chilies to 1 gallon zip-lock bag (for steaming) and repositioned any unfinished chilies to the hottest locations on the grill ~ just off to the left and right directly above the 'diffuser' and the side toward the chimney/vent.
    I then shut the lid once again for 4-5 minutes and then loaded the last chilies into another 1 gallon zip-lock bag and turned the grill to OFF.
    After steaming for 1-2 hours the skins were just as easy to remove as if the skins had been charred with any other method.
    When the grill was cool I reassembled the drip tray and covered it, to be ready for my next round of grilling.
    Easy Peasy... :-)

    1. Hi, Brent! Thank you for taking the time to elaborate on your technique. I wish I had had your idea then, but it's not too late. Next time I will try this for sure.

  13. I love my Traeger too and have 8# of hatch chiles on it RIGHT NOW. Thank you for guiding me thru the process AND it IS interesting to see where my "hot spots" on the grill ARE!! I had no idea that the outside edges run hotter than the rest of my grill! I am adding the brown bag technique as well. Put chilies into "couple" brown paper bags and let them steam and cool down. Makes it a little easier to peel afterwards.

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