Dear Hot Hatch,
Our relationship is just not as fresh as it used to be. I’ve grown accustomed to having you whenever and wherever I want: in morning burritos or late night quesadillas, at sushi bars in Santa Fe rolls, on pizza anywhere in town—even delivery. Remember that one crazy time with apple pie?
Sure, I miss you when I leave New Mexico. After the long, hot summer of green chile abstinence, I can hear people saying the same damn thing they said last year about your glorious smell in the air and not rage at their easy rapture.
But I’ve done it again. I’ve burned out my appetite. Now, I have to go to a darker place, more
concentrated. It’s not you; it’s me. Hunger and fear are the only ways I have left to feel exalted.
So I’d like to try drying you out. I’ve done some research, and it can be as easy as roasting, peeling and tying you to a clothesline by the stem and waiting a few days. There will be flies this way, and bugs occasionally leave a leg or antennae behind, but hey, people eat bugs all over the world, high-minded Americans, even. Remember that article in The New Yorker?
But if this makes you feel shy, we have a friend with a plug-in dehydrator. After four hours in that screened-in box, my freshly roasted chile, you will look more unappetizing than beef jerky. You will resemble vegetable roadkill. But you will have an intensely smoky—and this is what excites me—still-green flavor. You will become my little chile pasao.
I imagine using chile pasao as a seasoning. One option could be grinding it up and mixing it in with mayonnaise as a piquant filling for deviled eggs. New dryness allows me to explore roasted green chile flavor in savory doughs or in coleslaw to serve with fried chicken. I want to sprinkle chopped chile pasao on top of elk stew to add depth and chewiness to the yes-I-like-it-but-I-need-more meal.
We could diversify into fine chile powders. How about mixing chile pasao with salt and rimming it around a margarita glass? I’m intrigued by the idea of a drink that simultaneously ignites and quenches thirst.
Another alternative is dusting pasao on top of seared tuna, to add a dimension of green heat beyond wasabi.
Desiccating chile to just turn around and put it in soup or stew seems a little unimaginative to me, but some people do it.
Better that than bland and canned Bueno brand, don’t you think?
Your Sweet FILC
Karla Helland is a former pastry chef and the author of the FILC (Food I Like to Cook) blog on SFReporter.com.