Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hatch Chile Heaven

Mid-late August is an awesome time to live in Texas and New Mexico.  Not because we are melting in the heat, but because August means it's Hatch chile season!  The smell of roasted chiles fills the air in and near the better supermarkets in the area and fresh chiles are out in abundance in the grocery store's produce section and farmers' markets.  These chiles are similar in size to Italian peppers, but range in heat from mild (like a poblano) to spicy (jalapeno-esque).

But what to do with this embarassment of riches?  Well, if you're like me, the family gets 2 - 3 meals in the same week, all with Hatch chiles.  Aside from my husband getting a little burned out (or his gut anyway) from that many spicy meals, the season is short, so I want to enjoy the chiles when they're fresh if I can.  That said, canned Hatch chiles are available year-round, so there's no reason not to use them all the time.  You can sub a poblano for the Hatch chile when out of season.

The two recipes I cooked couldn't be more different.  One is a 30-minute stew and the other is major twist on a classic casserole, chicken spaghetti. 

The first recipe I did was a pork and Hatch chile stew.  What I love about it was that it cooked in 30 minutes and used that family-friendly ingredient pork tenderloin.

30 minute spicy perfection

Pork Tenderloin Hatch Chile Stew

1/4 cup olive oil
1 - 1.5 lbs pork tenderloin, cubed
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 lb mild green chiles (Hatch, poblano, or Anaheim), halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (optional to add spicy heat)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Lime wedges (optional)
Feta cheese (optional)
1 package ready-rice (chicken flavor), heated according to package directions or two cups cooked white rice

In a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and add to casserole.  Cook the pork, stirring once or twice until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium.  Add the onion, chiles, jalapeno, and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Cover partially and simmer until the pork is cooked through and broth reduced by about half, about 20 minutes.  Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper.  Serve over rice and garnish with more cilantro, Feta (optional), and lime wedges.

My second recipe is a skillet version of a classic Texas casserole, chicken spaghetti.  Traditional chicken spaghetti generally has stewed tomatoes, cooked and shredded chicken, and spaghetti.  It's then topped with cheddar cheese and baked until the cheese melts.  This recipe involves only one pot and several steps are done concurrently so that it all comes together at the end. 

Spicy Good Comfort Food

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti

1 lb pasta - spaghetti, penne, etc.
1 lb chicken breasts (bone-in, skin on for best flavor or boneless skinless)
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
2 mild (or hot) Hatch chiles, seeded and sliced thin
1 - 8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or 1/2 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 can tomatoes with green chiles, regular, mild or spicy (Ro-tel)
1 can cream of chicken soup (lighter version is fine)
4 oz shredded cheddar, cheddar-jack or Hatch chile cheddar (seasonal)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  Let cool slightly.  While chicken is baking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente (according to package directions).  Drain pasta and mix with 1 tsp olive oil to prevent sticking. After the pasta has cooked, and using the same pot, heat 1 Tbsp canola or olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add green onions and Hatch chiles to pot.  Saute until the onions and chiles are softened, about 3 minutes.  Add in sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned and have given off their juice, about 8 - 10 minutes.  Add in garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add in can of tomatoes with green chiles and cream of chicken soup.  Bring to a bubble and simmer  5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add in pasta; stir to combine.  Top with cheese and parsley.

Happy eating!

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