Monday, October 22, 2018

You Don't Know What To Do With Those Dried Chiles, Do You?

I'm making a chili today.  Using dried chile peppers.
Chili with an "i" is the spicy dish; chile with an "e" is the capsicum pepper, in case you were wondering.
 Chile is the country, which has no relationship with the pepper.
Chilly means it's cold.
  And then you have chili powder and chile powder.  From what I can tell, chili-with-an-i powder is a blend of ground chile peppers along with other spices like cumin, peppercorns, and salt, and it would be used to season a chili, which is the stew dish.  Chile-with-an-e powder generally refers to pure ground chile pods with no additives.

And now you know.

 Back to my chili with chile peppers.
You've seen all those dried peppers in the Hispanic section at the grocery story.
Now go buy some.  They will add a little extra oomph to your chile.
Here's what you do.
 I started out with a selection of dried chiles - California, Guajilla, Morita, and Pasilla. Because I had all four types.  If you only have one type, that's fine.  If you have a combination, that's fine too.

Now, what to do?

First, clean the chilies.  Cut off the stems and scrape out seeds and ribs.

For maximum flavor, I toasted the chiles in a dry skillet, medium low heat, for about 5 minutes, pressing with a spatula.  Don't let them smoke. (You might want to turn on the exhaust fan and open windows.  I had complaints.  Hrmmmmph!)  This brings out the richness of the chiles and adds a slight hint of smoke and complexity.

Put chiles in a bowl, pour boiling water over to cover, then cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Purée the water and chiles.  I ended up with about 1 cup of purée.

It's not very often that I have red meat, but every now and then, my body calls out for it. 
I found a piece of Denver steak in the freezer, sliced it thinly while it was still semi-frozen, then marinated it in a little soy sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, and a sprinkling of baking soda. 

 Yes, I said baking soda.  This is a little tip I learned from America's Test Kitchen, which is the only cooking show worth watching. You'll actually learn stuff when watching ATK.  Food Network is not about cooking and it basically sucks eggs.  Anyhoos, the baking soda raises the pH of the liquid which inhibits the bonding of proteins in the meat, thus making it more tender and moist when cooked.  A twenty-minute soak is sufficient.  If you do any stir-frying with beef, try this little trick.  You'll be surprised.

Rosie's Chile With Dried Chilies
4 large dried chilies, prepared as above, to make a 1-cup chili purée
1 Denver steak, sliced and marinated in 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 onion, chopped
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 13.7-oz. carton beef broth
And ...  because I had it lying around:
leftover bacon from breakfast, crumbled up
kernels off 1 ear of corn

Pour a little oil (just to film the bottom) into your stock pot and add a tablespoon of butter.  Melt butter over medium-high heat.  When butter starts foaming, add in marinated steak pieces, stirring.  Cook about 2 minutes, then add in chopped onion, scraping up the meaty bits from the bottom.  Pour in the dried chile purée, the diced tomatoes, and the tomato paste (washing out can with water to get all the paste out).  Turn heat to low and barely simmer for about 2 hours, letting the flavors develop. Pour in the beef broth and add the bacon and corn.  You could use a can of corn if you don't have an ear languishing in your vegetable bin.  And use the corn liquid too.  Just more flavor.  Heat through and it's ready when you are.

I like to serve this with wedges of cornbread so you can sop up all the goodness.

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