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Episode 27 - Hatch Chile Festival 2023: Sizzling Stories from the Southwest
Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World.
Fresh Chile Company Owner Randy McMillan’s birthday was yesterday so we wish him the best. Randy and wife Carol started the Fresh Chile Company because as he says, years ago we started bottling this beautiful fresh Red Chile Sauce in our home kitchen to give to friends and family for Christmas and, of course, for personal use throughout the year. Everyone loved their gift of Red Chile in a jar so much that they would call and ask for cases instead of a few more jars. We heard this from so many happy friends and family that we decided it was time to share the magic with everyone. That is how and why we started The Fresh Chile Company.
Well folks it is here. The 2023 Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch New Mexico. There are many things that are new to this year’s event, and I will talk about those in just a few seconds but I have to go back to 1972 which was the first soon to be annual Hatch Chile Festival and I was a news person back then and was there. Just sawhorses holding up plywood sheets that the products were shown on but the look in the eye of the then participants is exactly the same as any year I have attended. You see the love of the Chile fields and Chile both Green and Red.
This year there is a documentary film being shown in the School auditorium since the event takes place at the Hatch Valley High School. It is the Motion Picture Premiere of The Heart of the Hatch Valley. Friday evening, from 7:30-9 PM, it will be FREE to the community. On Saturday and Sunday, the admission will be $8 per person. Come see the world premiere of this great documentary about the Hatch Valley, The Heart of the Hatch Valley.
All three days there will be booths with lots of interesting stuff. In fact, The Fresh Chile Company will be there showing some of our Chile. We have some new products that I am sure you will find interesting, and I will talk about them in a moment.
First, though, something that is interesting is that Cowboy Cook Kent Rollins will be at the Festival and will give a demonstration at 5 pm on Saturday. Let me tell you about him.
Kent Rollins grew up ranching in Oklahoma, so he is well versed in the American Cowboy and all that applies including Kent Rollins is a Chuck Wagon cook. You can go to YouTube and search Cowboy Cook Kent Rollins and find many many videos that Kent has made about cooking outdoors in a Chuck Wagon environment. Personally, he has taught me through his videos lots about cooking even on my stove in my kitchen. You can start with Cowboy Coffee which at times has been labeled as too strong. It is not if you follow Kent’s instructions about how to boil it and then settle the grounds. I tried it on my stove and his methods took away the bitter taste in the coffee and my guests were amazed when I showed them how I was making it. That is just the opening act of cooking in a camp.
Sourdough Biscuits are the type of food that cowboys and everyone else loves when working cows or out on a distant hunt. For people working fourteen hours a day say working cattle the food has to as my rancher grandfather said, stick to your ribs. The way Kent Rollins shows how to make so many things out on the range are truly stick to the ribs all day food that will get you from sun-up to sun-down in good shape.
So you might ask, how did Kent Rollins learn to do these things. I’ll tell you.
Many years ago Kent’s uncle packed hunters into the Gila on the western edge of New Mexico and for six years Kent came and cooked. The first couple years he made all the food in Cast Iron pots and pans on a fire on the ground which meant that Kent spent much time bending over and trying to keep blowing dust and sand out of the food. Then he purchased an 1876 Studebaker Chuck Wagon which has an iron stove. At the Chile Festival in his demonstration, you can see this wonderful part of his cooking in cow camps.
Here is what Kent Rollins wrote: he said, Back in 1992, I was fortunate to find this 1876 Studebaker in good enough condition to get out and get cooking right away. After we got the chuck box full (the chuck box is the place you chuck all your utensils and equipment), the first person I cooked for was my Mama. Kent Rollins continued, Mama taught me how to cook and shared her love of cooking for people with me, and I wanted to start off by thanking her with the first meal I prepared on my very own Chuck Wagon. Kent Rollins finished with: Let me tell you, over the years, this chuck wagon has served me well. I’ve made a living doing what I love, and that’s the best kind of life to live.
Saturday, September 2nd at 5 pm he will be demonstrating his cooking along with his wit and wisdom. He is a western rancher as true today as 150 years ago. He and his wife Shannon show the Cowboy code of the West in everything they do and again, I would recommend watching his many videos in YouTube in which he talks and cooks and his wife Shannon runs the video recording and will add a great comment from time to time.
Earlier this week I got to sit with Kent and interview him and after watching many hours of him on his YouTube videos I found Kent to be in person exactly what he is on his cooking videos and it was delightful. It is posted and so you can see Kent talking about the Cowboy way of life. He and his father had a ranch, in eastern Oklahoma where he lives even today, so he grew up ranching. He was a rodeo performer for almost twenty years as a Bull Rider and then he says the ground got harder and harder as he was thrown off, so he stepped back and at that time got into outdoor cowboy cooking. That means he is up about 3 in the morning to get the coffee and biscuits going. By five when everyone else is getting up he has breakfast ready, which is important since those cowboys are going to work all day long and need their food and energy. He has lunch ready as cowboy come to get a bite of food and something to drink, usually coffee or water and then go back for another six hours or more of hard work.
He has dinner ready and also dessert. The next day it is all over again seven days a week on the range when working cattle. Hard life but good. It is rain or shine; it is done in all wind and weather. So be sure to see Kent Rollins at the Hatch Chile Festival and you can find his books. My favorite is his book: A Taste of Cowboy – Ranch recipes and tales from the trail by Kent and Shannon Rollins with photography by Shannon Keller Rollins. He has other books including Faith, Family and the Feast Cookbook along with Comfort Food the Cowboy Way.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.
The Fresh Chile Company will have a booth at the Hatch Chile Festival as they always do and there are some new products that you might want to investigate for good taste. One thing is for sure: all Chile Peppers are not the same. Some have more or less taste heat than others, some taste a bit sweeter. Well now, the same is true with onions. Those are onions that are not as strong, not as pungent as other onions. They are also used in the development of a new product at the Fresh Chile Company. It is Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing. About ten percent of the onions grown in our area are Sweet in nature meaning they are not as strong which is what some people like. This Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing is so very good, words are not enough, you must try it. But there is more. You can turn your next BBQ into a Fiesta with The Fresh Chile Company’s Hatch Tequila Lime BBQ made with 100% certified Hatch Chile. Authentic Mexican flavors of tequila & lime transform the bold flavors of Hatch Chile into a cookout favorite. Create excitement in every bite at your next backyard BBQ cookout. But there is even more new flavors: a special reserve release of the Hatch Green Chile varietal Big Jim in a 16-ounce jar. Varietal means that this product will only be made with Big Jim Chile, which is sweet and has a medium heat level. Big Jim is very popular in New Mexico restaurants & homes. You can get it just Green Chile Big Jim, a blend of Red and Green Big Jim or you can get Big Jim Enchilada Red Sauce.
There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great on biscuits. Hatch Hot Honey - Sweet & Spicy We make this product by infusing real Sun-Dried Hatch Red Chile into 100% local (Mesilla Valley) honey from Clayshulte farms. It's the same wonderful honey you have bought from us in the past. Only now we have infused this honey with our wonderful Hatch Red Chile. This Hot Honey is thick and rich with just enough heat to make everything you put on just a little better!
Our Hatch 575 Green Chile and Hatch 575 Red Chile is bold in flavor. Made with the Hatch Green and Red Chile these sauces will take your taste buds on a trail of the Southwest.
One more new one. OK, Hatchup - Spicy Hatch Red Chile Ketchup. Our Spicy Hatch Red Chile Ketchup is made from sweet and spicy Red Chile Peppers from Hatch, New Mexico, The Chile Capital of the World.
Enjoy this spicy ketchup on burritos, eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. When you want ketchup, reach for Hatchup for a flavor your mouth just cannot resist. My favorite use of Hatchup is on French fries. Yum!
One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or happen to be in our little slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Come browse and there are many more surprises that I assure you are wonderful. Again, from Monday to Saturday, the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.