I was born and raised in New Mexico and came to appreciate what may be its best attribute – New Mexican cuisine. It’s certainly not Mexican and don’t even get me started on Tex-Mex! New Mexican cuisine relies heavily on the Hatch chile pepper. New Mexico has a state question, “red, or green?” which is always asked by waiters. Hatch chiles, when allowed to ripen completely, turn red and are dried, ground, and cooked into a delicious, fiery sauce. Or harvested early, they are green and roasted, peeled and either stuffed or chopped. The fall is the harvest for the peppers. Giant propane roasters pop up at grocery stores, gas stations, parking lots, and most anywhere there is space and customer potential. I remember my parents having date nights out to Santa Fe built around getting that year’s batch. They would come home with giant plastic bags of steaming, still-warm peppers and get to work peeling. They would stay up well past when we kids went to bed. Perfectly peeled chiles got saved for rellenos. Torn chiles were chopped. All were portioned and placed in the freezer to be rationed out over the rest of the year.
I’ve been out of New Mexico and in Seattle for 14 years now. The first few years were rough. It was hard to find Hatch. New Mexicans look out for each other and whenever any of the New Mexicans I know would go back we would all place orders for chiles. I had my mom send a bushel up overnight and invited friends to help roast and enjoy (note: when doing this, never start dinner or drinks until all of the chiles are peeled. You will lose your help too early!). I had wild ideas to add them to the Pagliacci menu but their scarcity made it seem too high a hill to climb.
Over the last few years, Hatch have blown up. You can seen them in many grocery stores and on various menus. I have struggled - honestly. Part of me loves being able to pop into Whole Foods to grab fresh roasted green chile. The other part of me doesn’t like getting Hatch advice from people new to the pepper. “Don’t you know how long I’ve been eating these? I know what to do, thank you very much!”
That popularity has dovetailed with the passion for Hatch from Field Manager Jeff Maneval. Jeff has tried sourcing them on his own to no avail. Jeff is also the architect of our BBQ Chicken Primo. This year Jeff and I are happy to add Hatch to our seasonal pizza.
We chose medium heat – it shows a little of what the pepper can do without being overwhelming. We feature it on the BBQ Chicken Primo along with chicken sausage, red onions, and fresh cilantro. You can also order it as a topping for the next month. My personal favorite is pepperoni, Italian sausage, and Hatch chile. I hope you enjoy them!
John Clifford is our Director of Operations. He has been with Pagliacci for the last 12 years, starting as a cook at our Broadway location.