Charred Hatch Chile and Corn Breakfast Casserole

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I have to confess: I’ve been on blog vacation big time this summer. I’ve made delicious things on the grill and not shared them with you. I’ve been on vacations and taken only iPhone photos, and I’ve let many fancy summery meals and cocktails go by without bothering to document them. To be honest, it has been the best. But, I’m ready to be back. I have a list of things that I want to make that just can’t wait anymore. It’s back to to school time, and for me, back to blog time. That said, there is still a little summer left, and I intend to make the most of it.

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This breakfast casserole is everything you need in a back to school breakfast casserole. It’s cheesy, bacon-y, and in season with its charred corn and chiles. The charred flavor is almost reminiscent of the fair–the crisp air, buttery corn, and food cooked over open flames. It’s like a nice introduction to the season without jumping right in to pumpkin pies and fuzzy socks. It’s also easy enough to make the day before. I’d store the egg mixture in a big tupperware rather than the pan you’ll bake it in–unless you’re really good at not sloshing.

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If you’ve never had fresh hatch chiles, they’re on sale right now at the grocery stores. They apparently only have a really short season, and they only grow in one place–the Hatch Valley in New Mexico. They’re a big, green, relatively mild pepper that is generally a little curvy. They’re sort of a cross between a green bell pepper and a jalapeño in spice level, but they have a really fantastic flavor. Often the roasted green chiles that you can find canned at the grocery store are hatch chiles, and they do make a fine replacement in this casserole.

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Here’s the recipe
yields 6 generous servings in an 8×8 casserole dish

1 ear of corn, charred and cut off the cob
2 hatch chiles, peeled and diced
2 large eggs
4 strips bacon, cooked and diced
3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (3/4 cup)
3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
dash of cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First things first: char the corn and chiles. If you have a gas burner, high five! This is really easy for you. Just put the corn and peppers (one at a time) directly on the pot rest and turn on a medium flame. For the corn, just let it blacken here and there, rotating it with tongs, until it’s evenly charred. For the peppers, let them blister and brown all over, constantly turning them. When you take them off the heat, but them directly into a brown paper bag and close the top. Let them cool for 10 minutes or so. When they’re done cooling, you should be able to peel off the skins really easily, revealing soft flesh, which you then cut open, remove the seeds, and dice. If you don’t have a gas stove, don’t despair! You can always do this on the grill, but I wouldn’t build a charcoal fire for just this. If you have a gas grill, this is your best bet. If not, use the broiler in your oven. Same idea, just put everything on a cookie sheet and turn it often, watching carefully. It’ll take a little longer, but will be just as good.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When you’ve finished cooking the bacon, charring the corn and chiles, you’re ready to assemble. Mix together all of the ingredients, including eggs, flour, milk, cheese, chiles, bacon, corn, salt, cumin, and pepper. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 baking dish and put it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole is set. Let stand for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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