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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hatch Chile and Smoked Cheddar Cornsticks

We're taking my Oklahoma Modern Choctaw Cornsticks a little Southwest! Hatch chile season is in full swing, just in time for grilling during this heat wave we've been getting here in Southern California. (My birthday was on Labor Day, and it was sweltering here!)

 Here's a little back story on Hatch chiles if you're not sure what the hype is about: Hatch chiles and New Mexican peppers, usually green, are actually the same as the Anaheim pepper found here in Southern California, but they are usually much hotter.  Hatch chiles are not actually a type of pepper, but simply named for being grown in the Hatch Valley, New Mexico. The hot days and cool nights make for a famously delicious group of chiles, but anyone in New Mexico will tell you that New Mexican peppers in general are special.

Most commonly, the peppers you see in the market are several different varieties of New Mexican green chile, which is how farmers can sell Hatch chiles by grouping them "hot, medium, and mild." Watch out, the hot varieties are hotter than jalapenos! Here's a list of cultivars developed by New Mexico State University.

You can google a list of roasting locations in your area, or pick them up fresh from the market. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful aunt that gave me two vacuum packs of freshly roasted flash frozen Hatch chiles!

These cornsticks are super fast to make, and very tasty on their own piping hot out of the oven. I love them with a bowl of hearty chili or stew, or served with some pulled pork or barbeque.

If you don't have access to fresh Hatch chiles, you can substitute drained canned ones, or try using some pickled or fresh jalapenos. Of course, I encourage you to play around with different types of cheese (smoked, extra sharp, mild will all produce different flavors) until you find your favorite!

Hatch Chile and Smoked Cheddar Cornsticks

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup grated smoked medium cheddar
Don't worry if you spill a little
2-3 tbs finely chopped roasted Hatch chile (peeled, veined, and deseeded)

Preheat the over to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally oil or grease your cornstick pans and put in the oven to heat up for about 5-10 minutes before loading with batter. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and the buttermilk together. Gradually mix the wet ingredients into the dry until there are no more lumps. Stir in the melted butter, but don't over mix at this point. Stir in the grated cheese and Hatch chile.

Spoon the batter into the hot cornstick pans (about 2 heaping tablespoons per corn-shaped well) and put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Sometimes I like cooking them on the long side, for extra crispy bottoms, but it's up to you. To get the cornsticks out of the pan, take a knife to loosen it gently before flipping it out. Makes about 20 cornsticks.

Alternatively, you can use a 8" cast iron skillet that is oven safe, bake for 25-30 minutes. You can even use an 8" square baking dish or a 9" x 13" but you will need to adjust the baking time, start with the same time as the skillet and adjust as you see fit. However, I really like the hot sizzling cast iron to get a nice crust.

***This recipe is a FINALIST in Melissa' Produce #HatchMatch Picture Contest! Please click here to vote on facebook, simply by "liking" the photo!***

See Also:
Hatch Chile Jelly
Hatch Chile Apricot Jelly
New Mexican Green Chile Enchiladas

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