Hatch season is upon us here in Central Texas. For those not from the Southwest, hatch peppers are type of chile pepper grown in Hatch, New Mexico. They are prized for a rich chile flavor and for two weeks at the peak of hatch season the grocery stores here in Austin are lined with peppers, special hatch products are displayed and employees even wear chile pepper hats; it’s quite a production.
There are both milder and spicy varieties. When ripened the chiles turn red and sweeten slightly, but the unripe green variety are typically available in stores. Traditionally the peppers are roasted and pealed before being served and added to recipes. Hatch peppers can be stuffed, used for making sauces or dips, chopped as an addition to hamburgers, as topping for nachos or substituted for other types of chile peppers in recipes. And that’s just a few possible uses.
One of my favorite Mexican dishes is pork chile verde. The verde (which means green) comes from green tomatillos and chile peppers that serve as the base for the dish’s sauce. Chunks of pork are stewed in the green sauce for hours until tender. The result is an acidic and spicy sauce that pairs perfectly with the tender fatty pork. My hatch chile verde with pork meatballs is an amped up variation of traditional pork chile verde. I’ve increased the proportion of chiles and also roasted them along with the tomatillos for added flavor. Pan-browned meatballs add a rich meaty flavor.
At the Brisket and Bagel’s home we like to eat our hatch chile verde with meatballs over rice and garnish it with cilantro, chopped onion and sour cream. Alternatively, serve the meatballs with fresh tortillas to sop up the sauce or on a roll with melted cheese and avocado for a delicious sandwich.
- vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 8 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1½ pounds hatch green chiles (mild, or add some hot for heat)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1½ teaspoons toasted and ground cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons oregano (Mexican variety preferred)
- 2 ounces (approximately ½ cup) bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 pounds ground pork (80/20 preferred)
- 1 medium onion grated
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred)
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- oil for cooking
- Turn on the broiler. Place the tomatillos and chiles on a large sheet pan. Place the pan on the second rack from the top and broil on high heat. Once charred, turn them over until opposite is charred, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cooled, skin, seed and stem the peppers.
- While the peppers are cooling coat the bottom of a 6-quart dutch oven with oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer all the ingredients to a blender and pulse on high speed until pureed. Return the sauce to the dutch oven.
- To a large bowl add the breadcrumbs and milk. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix using your hands just until the mixture is combined and ingredients evenly distributed; be careful not to overwork it. Portion the meat into equal sizes and roll into balls; I like to using cupcake scoop.
- Fill a large high-sided frying pan with ¼ of vegetable oil. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan and cook the meatballs a few minutes on each side until browned.
- Add the browned meatballs to the hatch chile verde sauce. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. If the sauce is too thin, remove the lid and cook another 10 minutes
- Serve immediately or chill and reheat. The flavors will improve after a few days.