Charred and stuffed, New Mexico’s signature pepper takes chiles rellenos to the next level.

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Every fall, my family converges in the village of Hatch, New Mexico—the self-proclaimed "Chile Capital of the World"—for the namesake chile harvest. My mom and her sisters grew up just north of Hatch, in the small town of Truth or Consequences—T or C for short. My aunt later married into the Franzoy family, who first commercialized Hatch chiles in the early 1900s. The cult-like following of New Mexico's state vegetable (technically a fruit) can be attributed to the valley's unique terroir.

Hatch Chiles Rellenos
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen / Food Styling by Ali Ramee

Our day begins in the chile fields at dawn, the cooler nighttime temperatures vanishing as the sun peeks over the distant mountains. After meticulously picking for hours, we pile 50-pound burlap sacks of chiles, still warm from the desert sun, in the back of the pickup truck and meander home along dusty farm roads. For the main event, my cousin fires up a roll- ing drum roaster to singe the chiles, charring their skins until blistered and glossy black. As captivating as the aroma is, it sends even the most seasoned bystander into a coughing frenzy.

Hatch chiles stand out for their balanced sweet heat that takes on a subtle smokiness and buttery quality once roasted. Whether you do as I do and go for chiles rellenos, coated in a delicate, crêpe-light batter and oozing with asadero cheese (recipe opposite), or you take a page from Hatch's iconic burger joint, Sparky's, and smother griddled cheeseburgers with chopped chiles, you can't go wrong. Both are best with an ice-cold glass of green chile–spiked lemonade—tequila optional.

1. Char

charring chiles
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Using tongs, cook chiles over an open flame, turning occasionally, until blistered and blackened, 6 to 10 minutes per chile.

2. Steam

steaming chiles
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Transfer chiles to a bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let steam until skins loosen from flesh, about 15 minutes.

3. Peel and Seed

peeling and seeding chiles
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Peel skins from chiles under gently running water. Make a 1 1/2-inch opening in each chile near stem end; gently rinse out seeds.

4. Stuff

stuffing chiles rellenos
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Pat chiles dry with paper towels; carefully insert 1 piece of cheese into each chile through the 1 1/2-inch opening.

5. Batter

battering chiles rellenos
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Preheat oil; whisk together batter. Working with 1 chile at a time, dip chile into batter, and turn to coat. Immediately place in hot oil.

6. Fry

frying chiles rellenos
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Paige Grandjean / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Fry chiles in batches until golden brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes, flipping chiles halfway through frying time. Let drain.

Get the Recipe: Hatch Chiles Rellenos