Grown in the Hatch valley of southern New Mexico, Hatch Chiles have a short growing season spanning from August and into September. During these few weeks of late summer and early fall, New Mexicans go crazy for the green capsicums—buying up bags, boxes, and bushels of the chiles, fire roasting them and then throwing them into all manner of dishes ranging from chili verde, to burgers, to apple pies.
Apple pies? Yes, apple pies. It’s not that crazy of an idea considering that the fruity, yet spicy, chile peppers play well with sweet apples. Which is how I knew that throwing some of the hot hatches into a mango empanada would pair just as well, if not better, than in an apple pie. And if you’ve ever had those addictive dried mangoes covered in chili powder, you know how great that chile/mango flavor combination is already.
Fresh Hatch Chiles
Luckily for the rest of the country, fresh Hatch chiles have become more widely available outside of New Mexico. In Southern California (my neck of the woods), masses of chileheads queue up outside a handful of select grocery stores and gourmet markets that sell the special chiles. These stores even offer to fire-roast the long green pods in steel drums rotated over open flames.
I usually skip the fire-roasting line at the stores because roasting the chiles at home is a cinch. Although you can roast the chiles directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop, I prefer to roast them–just until the skin chars, blackens, and blisters–right on my barbecue grill.
Fire-roasting Hatch Chiles on the grill
After I roasted, peeled, and chopped my Hatch chiles, I added them to a homemade mango pie filling (from my Adobo Road Cookbook, no less), and then folded the filling up into some empanada dough (again, from my Adobo Road Cookbook). Yes, in case you forgot, Filipinos eat empanadas too (Spain and Mexico both have had quite the influence on Filipino cuisine via colonialism and the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, and empanadas happen to be a tasty result of that Spanish/Mexican influence).
Hatch Chiles and Mangoes. Together at last. In a flaky empanada.
The resultant mini mango turnovers fortified with Hatch chiles were wonderfully sweet, with just enough spice creeping through each bite of empanada. It turns out that the heat and earthiness of the Hatch chiles are a great match to the sweetness of the mangoes. And when this filling is baked in a buttery empanada dough, the results are flaky, crusty pockets filled with sweet chile-mango heat.
- Note: In general, roasted Hatch chiles have a nice bit of spicy heat to them (though some Hatch varietals can range from mild to very hot). Hatches are also bittersweet, grassy, and smoky and have an overall flavor (some say) that are unlike any other chile pepper. That said, I do find that Anaheims or Poblanos are suitable substitutes—so don't fret if you don't have fresh Hatch chiles available to you.
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon cane or coconut vinegar
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 2 fresh Hatch chiles, each about 6-inches in length
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh mango (from about 2 small mangoes)
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh calamansi juice, or fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 large egg, beaten
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt.
- Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, mix the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
- Add the vinegar and mix with your hands, or a rubber spatula, to incorporate.
- Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough just comes together to form a large ball and can hold its shape. You may not need to use all the water.
- Form the dough into a thick disk and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
- Grill the chiles on a hot grill, turning the chiles frequently with tongs, until the skin is blistered and charred, about 5 minutes total.
- Transfer the charred peppers to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Set the peppers aside until they are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
- Using your fingers, remove the charred skin from the cooled chile peppers (the skins should come off easily).
- Using a sharp knife, remove the stems from the chile peppers and cut a slit down one side of each chili pepper.
- Scrape out and discard the seeds. Roughly chop the chile peppers and set aside.
- Stir together the diced mangoes, salt, brown sugar, calamansi (or lime) juice, rum, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over moderately high heat.
- When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mangoes soften and the liquid thickens into a glaze, 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
- Stir the chopped chiles into the cooled mango mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick.
- Cut out 5-inch diameter rounds using a cookie cutter or by tracing a knife around a ramekin.
- Gather up the scraps of dough, roll out again, and cut out more rounds until all the dough is used. You should be able to get 10-12 rounds from this dough.
- Fill each round with about a tablespoon of the cooled filling, then fold the rounds over to form half-moon shapes.
- Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cut a vent into the top of each empanada with a knife.
- Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet, then brush each one with the beaten egg. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Serve warm.
More of my Filipino empanada recipes: