This past Sunday, I paid an unplanned visit to the Second Annual Hatch Chile Festival held at the Howell Mill location of Taqueria del Sol. Chef/Owner Eddie Hernandez initially launched this festival around the same time last year when these long green chiles that hail from Hatch, N.M. are in season.
Hernandez and co. took over a large area of the parking lot right in front of his restaurant, and set up food stations offering various dishes incorporating the chiles. The event plays off as a block party also inclusive with a live band and cash bars (serving cold beer and wine) stationed throughout.
Most of the recipes served that day required the chiles to be roasted and skinned of its char first, which I observed go down in the parking lot by a couple of restaurant employees. One man roasted a generous batch of chiles in a large gas-powered roaster, which he would constantly rotate for about five minutes. Then he would dump the finished chiles into a box where a second employee would skin them of their char one by one.
The chiles were then taken into the restaurant’s kitchen and transformed into recipes that were delivered to the food stations for serving. My favorites were the chile rellenos and a thick, hearty green chile chicken stew topped on rice. The crunchy relleno is a whole roasted pepper stuffed with cheese, then breaded, fried and served with a tomato-jalapeno salsa. It’s a popular dish that appears on the restaurant’s menu this time of year, so go get it while it lasts.
There were some other fusion-inspired dishes such as a mini hot dog and a cheeseburger taco (which I also hear makes an appearance on the restaurant’s menu) both topped with Hatch chile relish. But I especially liked a creamy serving of vanilla gelato fused with the roasted chiles.
I enjoyed the festival and array of dishes incorporating the New Mexican chiles. As far as the “heat factor” was concerned, most dishes were tame but the chile rellenos made me reach for water the most.
by Gene Lee, Food and More blog