The biggest party may be in New Mexico, but the celebration is nationwide.
This Saturday and Sunday, the tiny town of Hatch, New Mexico, will weather the busiest weekend of its busiest season—that is, of course, the annual harvest of those prized Hatch chiles, grown only in this otherwise sleepy, rural region located between Albuquerque, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
Tens of thousands of festival-goers, hundreds of vendors and all sorts of entertainers will descend on the village of barely 1,500 people, located in a dry valley at just over 4,000 feet above sea level, for the annual Hatch Valley Chile Festival. It's the climax, if you will, of the harvest season, an exciting event not only for Hatch, an event that begins in August each year and runs into September, but for fans of the often-elusive green chile that livens up pretty much anything you can think to put it in.
Can't make it all the way to the Southwest this weekend? That's okay because the whole country is actually celebrating, too; from roasting events in supermarket parking lots to a growing wealth of edibles (and even drinkables) showing up on shelves nationwide, here's a quick guide to making the most of the season, before it's over.
You buy, they roast at Wegmans. The popular supermarket chain that seems to be spreading like wildfire across the Eastern Seaboard lately is fully in the swing of things, chile-wise, with special roasting events at their stores throughout the season—many locations are still scheduled. All you have to do is show up and buy your stash—they'll be roasted in the traditional manner (in a barrel roaster, out front in the parking lot, definitely #instastory-worthy) while you do the rest of your shopping. Not near a Wegmans? It's worth asking at your local supermarket—many others have been running similar events.
Go to Smorgasburg. They're based in Brooklyn, but Zia Green Chile Co. has New Mexico roots, and you'll find them at the popular weekend food festival in Williamsburg, where they've been known to roast chiles right on site, as well as serve up green chile-related foods. (For instance, green chile fries.) Zia has just released their first batch of jarred Hatch goodness from the 2017 harvest, this week—who knows, you might get lucky and score some to take home.
Try the Salsa Verde beer from Martin House Brewing Company. This rather adventurous brewery in Fort Worth, Texas has quite the hit on its hands with this rather unusual beer—the chiles get roasted and thrown in with tomatillos, lime, and a little cilantro to create a refreshing if a little unusual ale. Best of all, if you're in Texas, it's canned and sold in throughout much of the state.
Fill your freezer with the Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese from Trader Joe's. There's always cooking with Hatch chiles—they keep very well, once frozen, and there's no reason why you wouldn't be able to enjoy them all year-round. Then again, you could also just leave the heavy lifting to someone else—for those not up for roasting and freezing their own, this popular frozen meal that was added to the Trader Joe's lineup last year—$2.99 for 12 oz.—works pretty well, too.