Do you feel that? That little bit of chill in the air? When the temp begins to dip down and the days start becoming short, that means two things: football season is in flight and green chile is being roasted.
Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas, that smoky and savory flavor was part of my childhood. My mom was from New Mexico, so every autumn it seemed that we had to make our way to the Land of Enchantment to pick up a bushel or two of New Mexico’s prized export—the green chile.
We’d haul those chiles back to Texas and spend the day roasting, bagging and freezing the peppers for use throughout the year. That’s the power of the green chile, it’s so versatile and works on everything: eggs, burgers, pizza, tacos, chicken, enchiladas, you name it. They say that taste and smell is one way that we can travel through time, and the smell of green chile is something that can instantaneously transport me back to my childhood.
I moved away from West Texas to San Antonio and it was more than a little jarring to find that green chiles just weren’t part of the scene here. I don’t know if it was a longing for this spice (or the fact that the nights are still hot in September), but I always found myself leaving for a respite in the Sierra Blanca mountains in Ruidoso. The trip would inevitably take the path of flying to El Paso then driving up to the Lincoln National Forest just outside of Ruidoso.
While El Paso is definitely Texan, its geographic location imbues some New Mexico sensibilities when it comes to green chile. I’ll never forget flying in to the Sun City to start off one of those mountain trips to find that the El Paso Whataburger had a green chile burger. The joy I experienced to have my favorite burger married with a nostalgic childhood taste—I ordered one of these specials both at the beginning and end of the trip.
At the time, the green chile burger was just a regional treat. But fortunately, Whataburger is bringing that incredible flavor from Hatch to all of us not fortunate enough to pick up a bushel of the chiles at a roadside stand.
Made with two patties, two different kinds of cheese, bacon, mayo and heaping portion of green chile, this is the limited time burger that I can’t get enough of—I’ve already had it four times over the span of a couple of weeks. And just like the leaves clinging to the trees, this burger isn’t going to be around for long.