It's that time again. Central Market is rolling out the roasters and bringing the heat during the 19th Annual Hatch Chile Festival. Thursday, August 7, marked the kickoff to the two-week festival and featured a variety of recipes using the spicy New Mexico chile peppers, as well as samples of the products you can purchase inside the specialty grocery store.
During the Hatch Bash kickoff event, Central Market staff members set up stations outside the store to serve up classic Hatch chile dishes, such as Hatch chile guacamole and Hatch salsa, each with spicy tortilla chips.
More adventurous recipes included the creamy macaroni and cheese mixed with bits of Hatch chile peppers and the Hatch nachos featuring layers of melted Hatch queso, tender Hatch beef fajita meat, crunchy tortilla chips, peppers, sour cream and guacamole. Don't try to wash it down with the Hatch lemonade, though - it's sweet at first, but has a strong kick after a few seconds, leaving a tingle in your throat.
Unfortunately the Hatch brownies tasted like plain fudge; the pizazz from the chiles wasn't present. But, there were plenty of spicy sweets inside the store, such as the Salem Baking Co. Hatch Pepper Chocolate Chip cookies. Grab a glass of milk with these thin and crispy treats.
For a saltier snack, opt for the white cheddar and Hatch chile popcorn from Gary Poppins Popcorn; each piece is crunchy, cheesy and has enough spice for you to easily eat it by the handful. The Wackym's Kitchen Hatch Cheese Nibbles are an interesting alternative to traditional cheese crackers. These miniature biscuits crumble in your mouth and pack a punch. They might look like dog treats, but don't worry, they are definitely for humans.
Central Market is your one-stop shop for all things Hatch chile now through August 19. Purchase some cheese mixed with the New Mexico peppers, a spicy pasta sauce, some Hatch pepper jelly or the standard Hatch tortilla chips (stock up on these for tailgating season).
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Customers can also participate in several cooking classes and dinners during the festival. Learn how to make a Hatch chile pepper-themed dinner during the "Hatch, It's What's For Dinner" cooking class on Wednesday, August 13; the menu features watermelon gazpacho with Hatch chile, shrimp and Hatch pepper grits, as well as Hatch cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting. The possibilities are endless.
Visit the Central Market Houston website for more special events occurring during the festival.