Around this time last year, one of my friends had an early “Friends-giving” at his apartment. If you’ve never been to one of these, it’s basically an excuse to have two (or more) Thanksgiving dinners – one with your friends and one with your family on the actual day…unless you’re me, who hosts an Orphan Thanksgiving each year with all of the people who don’t actually go back home on the proper holiday. Anyway, Kramer and I, true to form, got there right on time, which nobody ever seems to do and it always makes us the first ones at the party, i.e. the early people. Even when I TRY to be fashionably late, I’m still the first guest to arrive. It’s my curse. Since we were free, our friend Adam put us to work doing some prep while he and his roommates cooked. He put me on hatch chile duty. I had never cooked with hatch chiles before, but all I had to do was clean them, skin them and remove the stems and as many seeds as possible. Adam had already roasted the peppers, so it was just cleaning and chopping, but you could smell the spicy peppers even in their straight from the freezer state. I was super excited to eat them, and as I had anticipated, they were, in fact, delicious. They are the right amount of spicy combined with plenty of fresh pepper flavor – something that is honestly quite rare in the pepper world, I’ve found. There aren’t many varieties that are both flavorful and spicy enough to pack a punch. I convinced Adam to hand over some of his treasured peppers (that he had brought to New York straight from his home state of New Mexico, mind you), and I was able to use my bounty in a macaroni and cheese dish on Thanksgiving. Needless to say, it garnered rave reviews.
It’s hatch chile season again, so when I saw them for sale, I got really excited to roast and cook with them. This isn’t a traditional chile verde, which is made with pork shoulder, but rather a quicker, more weeknight friendly version that you can make while you put away groceries or prep lunches for the rest of the week. I doubled the batch of roasted hatch chiles, because I wanted to do what Adam did and freeze them for another use, and my apartment definitely smelled spicy, to say the least. I was worried that Kramer was going to jump out of his chair when the aroma his his eyes and nose, but we both like a little kick, so it wasn’t that bad. Some hatch chiles are spicier than others, mind you, and this batch was particularly hot. After the chiles are roasted, I pureed them with some fresh tomatillos, garlic and shallot, then added that mixture to ground beef and ground pork. Add a healthy dose of cumin and oregano, along with some lime juice, and 30 minutes later, you’ve got a chili that is simply irresistible. Kramer and I ate this for lunch for a few days with a dollop of sour cream and one more squeeze of lime juice. If you don’t want to have to watch this or stir it as it cooks, go ahead and make the green sauce, then mix everything together in your crock pot and let it simmer away all day while you’re at work or working on other things – it will be just as delicious with half of the effort.