Oregon summer series: beer #3 and a taste of home

19 Aug

I love Summer

Having just returned from a brief sojourn home, I have had New Mexican food on the brain.  Specifically green chile.  I have always been able to find green chile here in Portland, but it has rarely been good enough to spend any time talking about.  Although the chile tastes right, the heat levels are extremely mild…probably a product of the climate and soils that exist in the NW.  Last year there were Hatch green chiles at our local Fred Meyer, as well as chile roasting services at local Whole Foods, which was pretty awesome to see.  For those who are not in the know, Hatch is as small town, 30 minutes north of Las Cruces, known as the Chile Capital of the World.  The valley between Hatch and Las Cruces is teeming with chile farms, and some of the best chiles grown anywhere come from that area.

I tried the Hatch chiles last year and was left feeling let down, as the chiles just weren’t all that good.  My first thought was that they must send the mild stuff up here to the gringos, and keep all the hot chiles for the locals.  Consequently, I was not actively seeking out green chiles this year, as I assumed they would be similar to those from last summer.  You know what they say about making assumptions, don’t you?  After last night, I can tell you that my local draught regarding chiles may be over. 

Aren’t they beautiful?

The wife and I went to a friend’s house last night…a friend from New Mexico, who just happened to have picked up some chiles from his Fred Meyer for the cookout we were having.  He said they were labeled “hot”, but I was dubious.  I roasted the chiles and threw them over burgers for the whole crew (more than half of whom are from Minnesota) and I have to tell you, they were amazing.  Best damn green chile cheeseburger I have had in some time.  The chiles were flavorful and really hot.  Exactly what you would expect back home.  I was in heaven.  The Minnesota folks?  Not so much.  Lots of sweating, sniffling, and tears.  I mean, I was doing the same thing, but I was thoroughly enjoying the experience.  So when I saw a box labeled “Hot Hatch Green Chile” at Fred Meyer today…well, I pounced!  I bought about a pound and decided to roast them to see if they were as good as the ones I had last night.  If they turned out to be spectacular, I would return for my 25 pounds later in the week.  At $1.99/lb, it’s a steal of a deal.

As you are, I am sure aware, one can’t stand in front of the grill and not have a beer.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue my summer beer series with Southern Oregon Brewing’s Na Zdravi Pilsner.  This beer is a gorgeous yellow/straw color, with a rich foamy head that retreats down the sides of the glass, leaving a gradually larger, central plateau of foam for you to admire.  There are scents of grass and cracker/biscuit coming out of the beer, along with a slight spiciness from the hops.  The flavor is bold with a spice from the hops that is balanced by a solid malt presence.  The body is deeper and fuller than one might expect on a pilsner, but the dry finish makes for a wonderful quaff every time.  I am a big fan of this beer, and feel it is one of the better pilsners brewed in Oregon.  If you are a fan of pilsner and haven’t had this beer before, make sure to pick one up.

Getting busy with the roasting

Food Pairing: The easy way to go here is to just ping back to the green chile cheeseburgers I had yesterday, but I think I am going to say green chile enchiladas with some chicken and a bit of sour cream.  Cheesy, spicy, creamy…just heaven on a plate.  I knew that this would be a good beer to drink while roasting chile, but while sitting there smelling the blistering chile pods, I realized that the two together would be fantastic.  This beer has the pilsner malt flavor with a crisp and dry finish that would compliment any green chile dish that had substantial heat.

Ready for peeling

Oh, and the chiles?  Nice and hot.  Better make some room in the chest freezer.

Next up: Widmer Marionberry Hibiscus Gose

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