Gilroy has its garlic and Castroville its artichokes, but no one stakes a stronger claim to green chile peppers than Hatch, New Mexico, the self-proclaimed Chile Capital of the World. For a few weeks each year, the chile-centric Chelsea shop Kitchen/Market imports shipments of “Big Jim” New Mexican peppers straight from the source, to the capsaicin-craving delight of New Mexican expats and chile-heads alike. Delicious combined with tomatillos in salsa or scrambled with eggs, the long, meaty peppers can also be stuffed and baked, as in this recipe from Kitchen/Market chef-partner Dona Abramson.
Dona Abramson’s Hatch Green Chiles Rellenos
4 Hatch green chiles* (the straighter the better)
1 large ear corn
1 small yellow onion, diced
Olive or canola oil
½–¾ cup grated Chihuahua cheese*
(Monterey Jack may be substituted)
¼ cup grated Cotija cheese*
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼–½ cup pepitas* (hulled pumpkin seeds)
* Available at Kitchen/Market, 218 Eighth Ave., nr. 21st St.; 212-243-4433.
Preheat oven to 350. Toast pepitas in dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they start to brown. (1) Roast chiles directly over an open flame (grill or stove top) until skin is blackened and blistered on both sides. Place in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap to help steam off skin. (2) When cool, gently peel by hand or with the back of a knife. Slit chiles from stem to tip and carefully remove seeds. Slice kernels from the corn cob, and sauté them with onions in oil until soft. Season to taste and let cool. Combine cheeses, corn mixture, toasted pepitas, and chopped cilantro. Check seasoning. (3) Form mixture into 4 “logs” and place in chiles. Close “seam” as tightly as possible, with toothpicks if necessary. Bake on an oiled and salted baking pan or casserole dish until cheese begins to melt. Serve over watercress with cooked or raw tomato sauce. If desired, diced and roasted squash may be added to the stuffing.