Photo by Rebecca Firsker

Hatch green chiles and jalepeños add a Southwestern twist to a beloved condiment

Margaret Eby
June 18, 2018

If you are uninitiated into the world of Chile Crunch and Chili Crisp, know this: Once you get started, you'll never go back to your usual array of condiments. After you can add a kick of the tingly mixture of fried onion, garlic, and chile peppers to absolutely everything you eat, you may start bringing it in your bag to diners or adding it to your ice cream.

In the past few months, I've become so enamored with Chili Crisp that I've even started making my own, thanks to this smart recipe from Serious Eats. And during a recent trip to New Mexico, a place that takes chile peppers very seriously, I started wondering: Couldn't you make a different spin on Chili Crisp that incorporated green chiles? Rather than have ginger and star anise, what if you added cumin and coriander? Maybe you can make a riff on the Sichuan condiment that turns it more Southwestern?

Obviously, I had to try it. What is life for if not experimental condiments? So I brought back an enormous ziplock bag of crushed green Hatch chiles and got to work figuring out what the profile of a green chile crunch might look like. A friend of mine who grew up in Southern Colorado suggested using pepitas for extra crunch, and my colleague Kat Kinsman sourced some Anaheim chiles and Hatch chile powder from Kalustyan's in Manhattan. I used the skeleton of Sohla El-Waylly's Serious Eats recipe, replacing spices and kinds of chile pepper for the desired effect. I also amped up the amount of garlic and subbed in yellow onions for the shallots in her recipe. I also needed more oil and less sugar, and omitted some of the ingredients that would make the crisp lean more toward Sichuan flavors, plus I threw in some dried jalapeños and pequin peppers.

The result was something that I wanted to immediately eat on an avocado, and also on everything else. It has little bits of fried onion and garlic chips incorporated throughout, as well as the Hatch green chile pepper flavor amped up by cumin, coriander, black pepper, and MSG. It's a crunchy, spicy, salty, extremely addictive homage to the flavors of New Mexico and the joys of chili crisp. It's so good that I'm already plotting my next batch. 

Green Chile Crisp

Photo by Rebecca Firsker

Makes about 1 quart of chile crisp

Ingredients

4 teaspoons kosher salt (if you only have table salt, cut that by half)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin (fresh is best but whatever you have works)
3 1/2 cups vegetable oil or peanut oil
1 cup sliced garlic
3 cups finely chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup dried, crushed Hatch chiles  
3/4 cup dried, crushed Anaheim chile
3/4 cup dried, crushed jalapeño
1 cup whole dried pequin peppers
1 teaspoon MSG or Accent
2/3 cup roasted, salted pepitas, chopped
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Directions

1. Process your chiles. Grab a baking sheet, a cooling rack, a spice grinder, and a large heatproof bowl or pot—ideally 5 quarts or more, so you can pour hot oil into it without fear of it splashing all over you. For whole dried peppers, snip the tops off with kitchen shears and lightly crush them against the cooling rack—the aim is to get rid of the seeds. Then process in a spice grinder until they're about the size of chile flakes. If all you have is crushed dried peppers, don't worry that'll work too—I found that running them through the grinder helped with a more even texture, but if you're not worried about big chile flakes, you can put them right in the bowl.

2. Combine the Anaheim chiles, pequin chiles, jalepeños, Hatch chiles, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, sugar, MSG, and pepitas in the bowl or saucepot. 

3. Set up a plate or baking sheet somewhere easily in reach of the stove. Heat up the oil over high heat in a medium to large sauce pot (again, you want to avoid hot oil splashing arond which is not fun). Put in your sliced garlic and cook, stirring, untilt he garlic just begins to become golden brown. Then scoop the garlic out with a slotted spoon or strain using a mesh seive, making sure to reserve the oil. Let the garlic cool and crispy up while you put the oil back on the heat. Once it's hot again, add the diced onion and let that cook until golden brown before removing the onion with a slotted spoon or seive, again reserving the oil and putting the garlic on a plate or baking sheet to cool and crisp up.

4. Heat the oil that you fried the garlic and onion in back up to 375 degrees. Carefully pour the oil over the spice mixture you've put in the heatproof bowl or saucepan. Let cool for at least half an hour, until the spice mixture bowl is cool to the touch. Combine the fried garlic and onion into the mixture. (You can also taste and adjust the salt level here.) Pour the finished crisp into jars and eat on everything. I've heard it can be in the fridge for up to three months, but mine has never lasted that long. 

 

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