Hatch Chile Pepper Scones with Cheeses, and Quiet Sundays

I might be getting the hang of Sundays. For all of my memory, Sunday has been the day of the little nagging string of stress telling you you’re getting closer and closer to the entire looming week. Sunday has been cram day, panic day, wash all the things day.

hatch chilesPart of settling in here in Waco has been telling myself to slow down. (Friends can let you know how well I’m doing! Right…) Reading this article about a little girl who taught her mom not to rush as much has been part of my inspiration. It also has to do with this idea I started getting back in grad school–that you have to be bored sometimes to get ideas.

I can’t remember which well known author said that boredom is what leads to creation, but that concept stuck with me. I tried to think back to the hours I spent as an angsty eighth grader staring at my ceiling until an idea for a drawing came to me, doing nothing but listening to music and painting candle holders, drawing until I was so bored I actually wanted to practice violin. I don’t think I’m ever going to have that kind of time on my hands again, but I do make a conscious effort to spend moments doing nothing–not planning, not worrying about my career, not cleaning the kitchen or alphabetizing books. And I find that these really are the times that turn into some kind of real writing or inspiration.

its hot
chopped up hatchesThis weekend, I bought a bunch of Hatch chile peppers, and waited for inspiration to come…It did!

Hatch chiles are one of those super local, super seasonal items that are only available for a split second. They grow mostly in a stretch of land between Hatch and Arrey, NM, and are similar to Cubanelle or Anaheim peppers (and I think “Hatch” refers more to the region of cultivation than the actual varietal of pepper). They vary in spiciness, and mine turned out to be of the hotter variety. I read somewhere that a curl in a pepper is a tip that it will be spicier–who knows if that’s true. I think it’s pretty difficult to get Hatch peppers too far from their source, so if you’re not in a region where Hatch chiles are available, try swapping Anaheim, Cubanelle, or banana peppers. Then curse the universe for making delicious peppers grow in the sweltering southern regions of America instead of down the road from you! Suckas.

dry ingredsdough ballAfter the Roomz II made a batch of sweet biscuits that I thought were as a good as dessert a few months ago, I’ve been thinking about making a savory scone. The Hatch peppers seemed like just the ticket, and adding some Spanish cheeses and local honey made them feel even more…local? Haha. I recommend serving these for breakfast in some capacity or with a delicious Texan soup. See my ideas after the recipe.

ready to bake
overheadartistic sconeOnce again, we have our friend at smitten kitchen to thank for the basic structure of this recipe. Note: plenty of other basic scone recipes could work here, but I knew Deb’s would be tested and approved, and I knew she would have distilled the number of dishes required down to the bare minimum. Just as Deb says, they are crazy fluffy and light as far as scones go.

Savory Hatch Chile Pepper Scones with Cheeses!
Modified savory version of Deb Perelman’s Whole-Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes 9 scones

Ingredients
4 average-sized Hatch chile peppers (sub Anaheim, Cubanelle, or banana peppers if out of Hatch-range)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (cold, cut into ½-inch cubes)
1 Tablespoon honey
¾ cup whole milk ricotta
⅓ cup sour cream
1-2 Tablespoons milk, as needed
¼ cup shredded cheeses (I mixed sharp cheddar and Manchego)

Recipe:

Roast and remove skins from chiles: My preferred method here is the grill, but that’s not always reasonable. This time, I turned the broiler up high, moved the top rack up, and blackened these babies in the oven.

Oven: High Broil

1. With broiler on high, cook dry chiles (no oil/no water) until covered in gnarly black blisters. I did about 4 minutes on the first side, then 1 minute on the remaining sides. They should look completely charred.

2. Remove from oven and deposit IMMEDIATELY into a paper bag (or something that won’t melt) and seal. Sweat the peppers in the bag for 15-20 minutes.

3. Remove chiles from bag, then peel skins gently with your fingers (I wore gloves I was out of gloves and covered my hands in giant plastic bags at this stage–they can leave some serious spicy residue on your fingers!

4. Discard skins, remove seeds from chiles (don’t rinse in water! please! it obliterates the juices). Dice roasted peeled peppers into ¼-inch pieces.

Make the scones:

Oven: 425 F

1. Dry ingredients: whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Combine dry ingredients with butter in one of these ways:
– Pulse in a food processor
– Use your hands to crumble butter
– Use a handheld pastry blender

Mix until the largest butter pieces are pea-sized or slightly smaller.

3. Add ricotta, sour cream, honey, Hatch peppers, and grated cheese to butter/flour mixture. Stir using a flexible spatula, only until a soft dough forms, adding milk a little at a time if needed. Use your hands to knead in the bowl, shaping into a ball.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a 7-inch square, then cut into 9 equal-sized pieces. Lift gently onto greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating part way through. Insider tip: Halfway through the cooktime, drizzle each scone with melted, salted butter.

5. Rest 10-15 minutes, then serve!

Interesting substitutions and serving ideas:
– Exchange ricotta and milk for buttermilk or heavy cream (if you don’t like or have ricotta),
– Exchange sour cream and milk for buttermilk or heavy cream (if you don’t like or have sour cream)
– ADD BACON. My greatest regret in many a recipe comes down to a lack of bacon…
– Slice in half and serve as an egg and breakfast meat sandwich
– Serve with a big bowl of Texas chili
– Serve instead of dinner rolls or biscuits at a big Texas dinner
– Cut in half and drizzle with more honey and melty butter

up close scone

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