Down The Hatch

by Matt on September 10, 2008

Down-the-hatch-illustration

Many years ago in another life I was an art director for Whole Foods Market. It was a fantastic job for a great company, and I joked that I actually got paid to make things pretty. I suppose I still do even though a few detractors might fault me for going through my green phase (pms 365 and 368 were evvvverrrrywheerrrree and no Meg, I wouldn’t have noticed I was overusing it until you pointed it out, thankyouverymuch).   The company was growing and opening stores all over and as a result I spent a few weeks in Santa Fe, New Mexico working on a new location.

During that trip one of my co-workers suggested we drive out and experience a Green Chile Cheeseburger. All you have to say is burger and I’m down for a food adventure, but little did I know this burger would remain in my memory for over 10 years.  She took us to the Bobcat Bite, a small outpost on Old Las Vegas Highway that’s been open since 1953.  It was so utterly fantastic and perfect and I felt like I stumbled onto a movie or music video set. My co-worker Polly commanded us to order the green chile burger and of course the entire table obliged.

And that’s where I first tasted this masterpiece.

I don’t know if you’re one of those types of people that need a burger piled high with everything in order to enjoy it. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Bacon, swiss, avocado, lettuce, mustard, mayo, pickles, relish, secret sauce, an onion ring, another pickle, grilled onions, raw onions, I could go on. Hey, I love a fully decorated burger like the next guy but there are moments where less is more. That’s why I found this burger — only beef, bun, cheese and green chile — utterly perfect.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I went to hear two Hatch Chile experts from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture give a quick demonstration at Melissa’s Produce in Vernon, California (oh Vernon, what a strange strange place you are) and discovered that Hatch Chiles don’t always come from a little can at the supermarket. In fact, they’re extremely seasonal, available for a short time of the year (as in RIGHT NOW!) and the subject of chile roasts, festivals, parties and get-togethers. I love peppers in all forms and usually reach for Anaheims in my recipes (which is actually the grandson of the Hatch!) but when it comes to peppers I have learned why Hatches can’t be beat.

So, let’s see: more even heat, thicker walls, edible seeds, unmatchable fresh, green chile flavor, the best rellenos, easy to roast and skin, the list goes on. And armed with this information and pepper availability I figured now was as good time as ever to try my hand at the burger that has lived in my memory for all these years.

Plain-and-grilled-hatches

I took a few peppers, roasted them over a flame until black and charred, and then put them in a bowl covered with saran wrap. They went into the freezer for a few minutes as I learned that cold peppers are easier to peel than warm.  Once peeled and all the bits of burned skin were removed I chopped them, seeds and all but minus the stem, into tiny little pieces, placed them on a burger and voila! My own little Green Chile Cheeseburger made with some of the most delicious chiles I’ve ever tasted! And pardon the pun but this burger went down the hatch in about 2 minutes. Ok, maybe one minute. I won’t lie.

Don’t you just love simple recipes?

(And contrary to what many people believe, the heat of a Hatch lives in the fruit’s walls, not the seeds. They’re edible!)