Eat This

The Great Hatch Harvest is Ready. It's Like Xmas for Pepperheads.

Well, the peppers are picked and packed -- maybe a little later and less abundant than usual. Harvested in late summer in Hatch, New Mexico, these green delicacies, named for their birth city, have garnered a cult-like following who flock to stores in a mild frenzy upon their arrival. It's your time, Hatch, sparkle then fade. Just like you do every year, girl.

Several stores in the area, including Central Market and Whole Foods, fire-roast the peppers, which enhances their distinctive sweet and smoky flavor. The faithful load up with a case or so now, and then separate the Hatch peppers into smaller freezer bags to use in chili, stews, pastas, breakfast tacos and a hundred other things throughout the year.

There is also a wide variety of Hatch-inspired items available, particularly at Central Market where you can find things like: Hatch chocolate ice cream, Hatch quesadillas, Hatch popcorn, Hatch cheese, Hatch tortilla chips and Hatch hairspray. Of course, you can always buy just the plain old peppers off the vine. And if you're not sure what to do with them, Central Market has loads of recipes online and many in-store demos.

This year I've tried the Hatch goat cheese at Whole Foods smeared on a baguette, and it was luscious. Plus, every year I make a point to get Hatch pesto from Central Market. Also look for Robert Rothschild's Hatch Chile Pepper Jam (a CM exclusive). This sweet, yet fiery condiment is a game-changer (think panini, not pb&j). Luckily, the options in Dallas area stores are plentiful, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to explore the great Hatch harvest over the next few weeks. If you haven't been already, you'll easily get sucked in -- just let it happen ...

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.