Do you know the Chile Man? You should.
My husband and I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Mac White and his wife Julie at their home in Marfa, while he roasted a burlap sackful of Hatch long green chiles for us.
I snagged this photo of Mac from my friend Janet Adams’ social media from the Cattlewomen’s Soiree a few years ago when Mac was cooking something no doubt delicious… looks like green chiles from here!
Mac was born in the old Marfa Hospital that his family founded, and grew up in Marfa. He went to Sul Ross University, and came back to Marfa to work on the family ranch. His hands have been in projects all over Marfa and far West Texas, thanks to his talent, ingenuity and welding and fabrication skills. The doors at the Saint George Hotel are his handiwork, as well as the custom fabricated light fixtures. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
About six years ago, his long-time pal Harvey Morrow of Morrow Farms in Hatch, New Mexico, asked if he would be interested in being the Marfa connection, roasting and selling the long green chiles Harvey grew. And so the Hatch Chile Man of Marfa came to be.
Our long green chiles right before Mac cranked up the heat…
Harvey typically grows four or five different types of long green chiles. Mac generally takes two trips to Hatch and loads up his trailer with the big burlap sacks of chiles, each weighing upwards of 50 pounds, to bring back to Marfa for roasting.
While he stays away from the Extra Hot chiles, he roasts the Hot (named Sandia), Medium (Big Jim) and the Mild called 6-4 that he sells to restaurants for their chile rellenos.
If you’re eating green chiles in Marfa, Mac probably roasted them. Mac sells his roasted chiles to the Lost Horse Saloon, Marfa Burrito, Mando’s and Bad Hombres, just to name a few places.
Once, my husband and I were traveling through New Mexico and bought a bag of dried Extra Hot chiles. He made a wonderful, bright sauce and drenched our tortillas for stacked enchiladas with it. It was so hot that neither I or our teenage daughters could eat it… and I’d never seen my husband sweat so much at the dinner table, and he cleaned his plate. Extra Hot is not a misnomer. We got the Mild chiles from Mac.
There’s an art to roasting chiles. You can’t just dump some in the big roaster and let it go, which is a mistake often made by the untrained folks at the grocery stores during “chile season”. Over-cooking gives the chiles a mushy texture.
The roaster needs to be filled with an entire sack of chiles, or else they don’t tumble but will just stay together while going around and around. Use very hot fire, and actually roast the chiles, not cook them. Mac says you want the chiles to be tumbling in the roaster “like a wave in the ocean,” and that doesn’t happen when the roaster is only half-full.
The final product. The little bits of skin slide right off, thanks to Mac’s quenching technique…
After three minutes (yes, only three minutes) of tumbling and turning the peppers from green to black, Mac “quenches” the chiles by turning off the flames, keeping the chiles tumbling, and spraying water beneath them to create steam that magically knocks the skins from the chiles, returning them to a lovely shade of green.
Once cooled enough to handle, Mac had us try a freshly roasted chile. It was crisp and delicious, and without a doubt the best chile I’ve ever eaten. So good, that before the day was over, I probably ate a dozen of them, between snacking while packaging up our nearly-50-pounds of roasted chiles and making rellenos for dinner. I think we need a bigger freezer just to store Hatch chiles.
About to eat the best chile I’ve ever tasted…
Mac will be headed to Hatch for the annual Hatch Chile Festival the first weekend in September and will return to Marfa with a large trailer filled with Hatch chiles. He sells the chiles to the public for $40 per bag, roasted or unroasted, and the bags are about 50 pounds each. He can be reached at (432)634-4730 for orders.
Hatch Green Chile Sauce
(Add the flavor of New Mexico to your meals with this green chile sauce)
2 tablespoons light flavored olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 packed cups of green chile, roasted, peeled, seeds removed and finely diced (about 1-1/2 pounds roasted chiles)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (make it gluten-free with brown rice flour)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
2 cups water
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil and add onions and garlic, stirring often and cooking until onions are soft. Add flour and seasonings and stir to coat the onions. Add one cup of water to the mixture in the pan, and stir to dissolve the flour. Add green chiles and the remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep refrigerated. Best used within 3-4 days, but can be frozen. This recipe makes just under five cups of sauce.
Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche