Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebrating Hatch Chile Harvest Season with Frieda's...Featuring Hatch-Cheddar Shrimp Risotto #HatchFever

If you haven't tried famous Hatch green chiles, now is the perfect time to change that…but you have to act fast! From now through early September is the annual harvesting season for these amazing peppers. Hatch chiles are a popular group of long green chile varieties that are grown exclusively in the Mesilla Valley near Hatch, New Mexico. Chile lovers eagerly anticipate each year's harvest of these flavorful peppers. Hatch chiles look similar to Anaheim chiles, but they’re spicier. In fact, the Extra Hot Hatch variety is typically hotter than a jalapeno. My friends at Frieda’s Specialty Produce recently sent me a box of Hot Hatch chiles to create an original recipe to share with you today.
Although Hatch chile peppers can certainly be chopped and used raw, they’re ideal for roasting. Roasting is simple to do, and it enhances the chile's flavor and intensifies the heat level. Roasting can easily be done at home -- Frieda’s has step-by-step directions on their website. Once roasted, simply slip the skins off of the Hatch chiles and you’re ready to use them in a variety of recipes. Stuff them with cheese for chile rellenos...or chop them for using in homemade salsas, sauces, chili, etc. I recently roasted 5 lbs. of Hatch chiles one weekend afternoon. I packed them into ziptop bags and placed them in the freezer so I can use them this Fall, long after the Hatch harvest season is over!
For today’s recipe, I decided to use some of my chopped roasted Hatch chiles in a spicy fusion dish: flavorful Hatch-Cheddar Shrimp Risotto. Using the classic risotto technique, I added diced Hatch chile and creamy cheddar cheese. To add a bit of smokiness, I incorporated some diced pancetta – but bacon would work just fine too! This risotto makes a perfect one-pan dinner that takes classic risotto to spicy new levels. I used one diced roasted Hatch chile in my risotto, but feel free to double that amount if you want a bit more kick.
Hatch-Cheddar Shrimp Risotto
a Weekend Gourmet Original

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 roasted Hatch chile, diced + 1 roasted Hatch chile, cut into strips
  • 1 cup carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Chardonnay, or any dry white wine of your choice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup shredded cheddar blend (NOTE: I find that Kraft Touch of Philadelphia cheese works great in this risotto.)
  • 1 lb. small shrimp (50/60 count), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Add the olive oil to either a large nonstick saucepan OR a deep non-stick skillet with high sides. Heat over med-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook until browned. Reduce heat to medium; add the chopped shallot and Hatch chile and cook until the shallot is fragrant and translucent – approximately 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to evenly combine. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes.
Step 2: Add the Chardonnay and cook -- stirring constantly -- until nearly all of the wine evaporates. Raise heat to med-high and add 1 cup chicken stock. Stir constantly until nearly all of the stock has been absorbed. Continue with three more 1-cup additions, until all of the stock has been absorbed and the risotto is cooked and creamy. This will take approximately 20-25 minutes, so put on some good music and be patient while the risotto does its thing.
Step 3: When all of the stock has been absorbed, the risotto should be cooked al dente. Add the butter and cheddar cheese and stir until they’re incorporated into the risotto. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the shrimp and stir to evenly combine with the risotto. Turn off heat and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Just before serving, add ½ cup shredded cheddar to the middle of the risotto on the serving dish. Arrange the Hatch chile strips in a decorative pattern in the center of the cheese. To serve, dish the risotto into bowls. All you need is a simple green salad for a perfect dinner.This risotto is absolutely amazing…the Hatch chiles provide a subtle smoky heat that compliments the pancetta perfectly! The shallot provides a subtle garlic/onion flavor, and the bite-sized shrimp provide a nice sweetness. Taking this risotto over the top, the melted cheddar combined perfectly with the starch from the rice to create a velvety sauce. We couldn’t get enough of this risotto, and I can’t wait to make it again!
For my Texas readers, many H-E-B locations throughout the state are holding in-store Hatch chile roasting events weekends in August. These fun events allow you to see how Hatch chiles are roasted in person…and then take some fresh-roasted chiles home with you! 
Disclosure: Frieda’s sent me a 5-lb. box of Hatch chiles to facilitate recipe development for this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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