It’s that time of year again! Grocery stores all over Texas have the unmistakable spicy-smoky aroma of roasting Hatch chiles out front, and the big chile roasters are rolling almost nonstop during open hours. It’s my favorite culinary time of year.
While most recipes for Hatch chiles are savory, I decided to post a sweet one today, because the pungent, smoky flavor of Hatch green chiles pairs exceptionally well with many sweet ingredients…especially peaches. And since the end of Texas peach season overlaps with the beginning of Hatch green chile season, there’s no reason NOT to make this pie each Labor Day!
I bake my pies almost exclusively in a cast iron skillet these days, but I realize that not everyone else does. So this recipe will include formulas for both a standard deep-dish pie plate, as well as a 10″ cast iron skillet. The formula for the deep-dish pie plate will come in [brackets] after the amount for the cast iron skillet. Example:
9 cups sliced peaches [6 cups]
The 9 cups will be the amount for a cast iron skillet, and 6 cups for a deep-dish pie plate.
Finally, plan on baking this pie a day BEFORE you serve it, for best results. (Explanation at the end.)
The crust recipe is the same whether you’re baking in a cast iron or deep dish pie. Into the bowl of your food processor, measure out:
12.5 ounces (2.5 cups) unbleached flour
Then remove approximately 1/3 of the flour to a separate bowl. Add:
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Pulse the processor to combine. Then add:
10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into slices
Pulse the ingredients in 1-second pulses 20-30 times until the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the flour, you see no more dry flour, but the mixture is still in clumps, rather than coming together into a cohesive mound of dough. If you accidentally go that far, it’s okay, but it’s best to stop before it all comes together.
Add the reserved flour mixture, then pulse 4 or 5 times and the mixture will return to looking floury and pebbly. Remove everything into a bowl and add:
6 Tablespoons ice cold water
Use a spatula to begin smearing the crust pebbles together. Don’t stir! Just smear. Once the liquid is mostly incorporated, turn it out onto a heavily floured surface and gently press the pieces into a cohesive mound. Then fold the mound in half and gently press together. Repeat this folding and gentle pressing 5 or 6 more times.
Remove about 8-10 ounces of dough for the top crust and set aside. Flatten both crusts into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Now here’s where we need to talk. Peaches. If you can get local, seasonal peaches, it’s worth the extra effort of peeling and slicing them. But ONLY if they are local and in season. If your grocery store doesn’t have them marked as local, don’t waste your money. Peaches must be picked at the perfect stage of ripeness for the best flavor, and they turn to mush within 3 or 4 days of picking. To complicate matters, refrigerating anything other than a dead-ripe peach causes the texture of the peach to become coarse and unpleasant. (Officially it’s called “wooly peach” and it’s nasty.) So properly-ripened peaches aren’t easily transported more than a few hours. Avoid non-local peaches at ALL cost. You’re far better off buying frozen peaches, which are picked and flash frozen at the peak of ripeness.
To peel peaches the fast way, cut a shallow X across the bottom of the peach and immerse the peach in boiling water for a few seconds, and then under cold water to stop the cooking. Then the skin peels right off easily with your fingers. Or you can forego the blanching and just peel the peaches with a sharp vegetable peeler, or a paring knife. Cut into slices about 1/4″ thick. You can also leave the skin on the peaches for very rustic texture if you are certain that everyone in your crowd likes fuzzy peach skins. (I adore them, but alas, most of the folks I cook for do not.)
Preheat the oven to 425F and place one rack on the very bottom position, and one rack 2 spaces down from the top. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack while the oven preheats.
In a small bowl, combine:
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark or light) [1/2 cup]
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt [1 tsp]
3 Tablespoons tapioca starch, tapioca flour, or “Minute tapioca” [2 Tablespoons]
1 teaspoon cinnamon [2/3 tsp]
Now let’s chat tapioca. Get some. Keep it in your pantry, it never expires. I get mine for less than a dollar a bag at the Asian supermarket, but you can get it at ANY grocery store for a little more. Why tapioca? It doesn’t break down in the presence of acidity the way flour and cornstarch do, meaning your pie will stay “set” for days after baking. You CAN substitute cornstarch for tapioca, Tablespoon for Tablespoon in this recipe, but don’t hold me accountable when your pie gets liquidy and gloopy the second day.
9 cups sliced peaches (a little over 5 pounds whole) [6 cups (about 4 pounds whole)]
3 peeled, seeded Hatch green chiles (I use 1 spicy and 2 mild) [2 peeled, seeded chiles]
1/4 cup honey [3 Tbspn]
juice of 3 lemons [2 lemons]
Toss everything together gently with your hands. Then dump the dry ingredients into the peaches and toss thoroughly. Set aside for at least 10 minutes while you roll out the crust.
Roll out the larger crust and transfer to the pie plate. Roll out the top crust and decide whether you want to do a full-cover crust, or a lattice crust. (Lattice crusts are much easier than they look. Click Here for an excellent picture tutorial.)
When the peaches have been sitting for at least 10 minutes, give them a gentle stir and pour them, juices and all, into the crust. Top with the top crust and flute the edges between your fingertips.
If desired, brush the top crust with:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
This gives the crust a shine. I also like to sprinkle coarse raw sugar on top of my crust for extra crunch and wow.
Make yourself a foil template for protecting the edges of the crust. You’ll need it during the baking process and it’s easier to make it now with a cool pie than with a screaming hot one. It doesn’t need to protect the center of the crust, and if your center crust start to overly brown, you can always just tear a full sheet of foil to cover it. But cutting out a template is best done beforehand. (Assuming you don’t have crust shields already.)
Place the pie onto the baking sheet on the lowest rack of the preheated 425F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then cover the edges with your template, lower the oven temp to 375F, and continue baking for 45 minutes [35 minutes for deep dish]. Then transfer the pie to the upper rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes more [10 minutes more].
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool to room temp on the counter. Ideally, let the pie sit overnight before serving. If you do this, the tapioca will set up all the juices into a perfect pie for slicing, and you won’t have juices oozing everywhere and the pie falling apart when you slice. This is one of the wonders of tapioca…as long as your filling came entirely to simmering temperature, and you give the pie time to set after it cools, you can have a perfectly slice-able pie on the day after you bake it. But you gotta wait!