Kitchn Love Letters

The $2 Canned Good That’s Never Missing from My Pantry (Delicious on Burgers and Hot Dogs!)

published Jun 30, 2024
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During a late-night grocery run, a certain stout can of preserved chiles caught my eye. I’ve learned that I’m susceptible to buying tiny things in colorful packaging, which I’m sure isn’t unique. It means I place seemingly random items in my grocery basket like a bird collecting shiny objects.

Credit: Patrick Matherly

Under the fluorescent lights, I browsed the dusty canned items with “Best by” dates just weeks away, and decided it was my duty to rescue one. I skipped the $6 organic three-bean chili and landed on an affordable little can of diced Hatch chiles

This beloved chile is similar to the New Mexican chile, but like Champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano, Hatch chiles only come from a specific region that imparts unique flavors from the soil and climate — in this case, the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. Finding a hyper-local ingredient from across the country was a thrill, and I ambled home for a taste.

Credit: Patrick Matherly

What’s So Great About Hatch Select Mild Diced Green Chiles?

I clipped the can’s edge until it was held on by a thread and pulled the lid back to reveal diced chiles in a subtly acidic sauce (the main ingredients are Hatch chiles, water, salt, and citric acid).

Before you do anything, have a spoonful of the chiles on their own. The liquid softens the chiles and takes on their essence to produce a sauce that improves everything it comes in contact with. The sauce is acidic, nutty, and tastes slightly of the allium family. The chopped peppers add crunch. And the combination packs just enough heat to break a sweat. It’s phenomenal on its own or can be used to add a layer of complexity to many dishes. 

For around $2, diced Hatch chiles have become an essential condiment for lunches made of leftovers and grilled foods alike. Look for it at your local grocery store; I’ve seen it in the international aisle, on the hot sauce shelf, and mixed in with the olives and pickles. There are two varieties by Hatch Select — “mild” and “hot” — but personally I can’t tell the difference between them. 

Credit: Patrick Matherly

What’s the Best Way to Use Hatch Select Mild Diced Green Chiles?

The acidity and spice in these Hatch chiles can balance the fat and sweetness in a dish. Sweet cornbread, omelets, and quesadillas all benefit from a little chopped hatch chile. It can also make a luscious spicy mayo and enhance black bean soup

Credit: Patrick Matherly

As grilling season approaches, my absolute favorite way to consume them is on top of a charred burger. Any burger will do, but I find a black bean patty contains the perfect amount of earthiness and richness to balance that acidity and heat. 

Credit: Patrick Matherly

Toast your buns and swipe with a healthy coating of mayo on both sides. (Any Duke’s fans out there?). Add your grilled patty and a slice of cheddar. Finish with a tablespoon of diced Hatch chiles. Lightly flatten with the palm of your hand and enjoy.

Buy: Hatch Select Mild Diced Green Chiles, $1.53 for 4 ounces at Amazon

What canned goods are you breaking out for summer grilling? Tell us about it in the comments below.