Go Wild With Chiles!
|Toward the end of August in San
Francisco, our Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is ablaze with glisteningly
and spicy red, green and yellow chiles. Their vibrant colors and slightly spicy fragrance
tantalize my tastebuds and imagination.
recipes, using chiles in different ways, combine to make a superbly piquant Sunday Supper.
It will take some time to prepare this Sunday Supper, but it will be worth the effort if
you've been longing for a chile indulgence. You can make these dishes as spicy or mild as
you like, depending on the type of chiles you choose. Since the hotness of chiles can vary
quite a bit from variety to variety, these recipes don't specify the type to use nor do
they give exact quantities of other ingredients. Use them as guidelines to adapt to the
types of chiles available in your area.
Grilled Pork Loin with Pimento-Chipotle Sauce
Lemon basil and purple basil
Rice wine vinegar
2-3 large cloves garlic
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until
- Continue processing while adding white wine or water as necessary
to get a paste-like consistency.
- Adjust seasonings as necessary.
"Marinating" the pork:
- You can use any cut of pork suitable for barbecuing. Most
important is to select a size and shape suitable for cutting a deep "pocket" in
the center, into which you will stuff some "marinade".
If you are using a loin, insert a sharp knife blade in the center, making 1" hole
from end-to-end parallel to the length. If using chops, cut a 1" "sandwich
pocket" in the center, parallel to the bone.
- Fill the incision with the marinade paste, pushing with the end of
a chopstick to move the marinade into the center and to distribute it evenly.
- Smear the rest of the marinade on the outside of the pork and let
it marinate in the refrigerator all day.
- Barbecue when ready to serve.
For the Sauce:
- Put several fresh, whole pimentos under the broiler and char them
until the skins are black.
- Place the charred pimentos in a plastic bag and let them sweat.
- When cool, remove the skins and carefully remove stem and seeds.
(Don't rinse. That washes away the sweet cooking juices which add a lot to the flavor.)
- Puree the flesh in a blender and add dried chipotle powder, good sherry vinegar
and salt to taste.
Black-eyed Pea Salad with Chiles:
Fresh black-eyed peas
Small, fresh red chile
- Cook the black-eyed peas for about 20 minutes, just until they
lose their raw crunchiness. (I add some sherry vinegar and a bay leaf to the cooking water
to enhance the flavor). Drain.
- While the peas are still hot, add a strong vinaigrette made of
equal parts of olive oil and sherry vinegar. Let the beans cool to room temperature then
add finely chopped cilantro, green onions and a small red chile pepper. Salt and pepper to
- Refrigerate or let sit at room temperature until ready to use.
Sautéed Chile Ribbons:
- Select a variety of thin-fleshed red,
green and yellow chiles, with varying degrees of hotness to suit your taste.
- Cut off the stem-end, remove seeds and cut out much of the fleshy inner membrane.
- Cut the chiles into thin ribbons of roughly equal length and
- Sauté (or stir fry) in olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange all the ingredients on a plate or in bouillabaisse bowls, as
A full-bodied cabernet sauvignon complements the spiciness of
this Sunday Supper.
There are no exact measures given for the ingredients in this "marinade". Adjust
the quantities to suit your own taste and to get a paste-like consistency. Prepare enough
to stuff into the "pocket" and to generously coat the outside of your meat well.
- Lemon Basil and Purple
Basil: Italian basil would work, but I found that the lemony fragrance of
lemon basil and the soft, sweetness of purple basil were less aggressive than regular
basil and let the cilantro flavor shine through.
- Using Marinade: I
have read that marinating meat really doesn't do much to improve the flavor or texture of
meat. The article said that the marinade flavor doesn't penetrate more than a few microns
into the surface of the meat and for the same reason, it does not really act as a meat
tenderizer. So why bother? In this recipe, the "marinade" is inserted into
center as well as adhering to the outside. So it serves as a highly seasoned
coating-cum-stuffing that stays on the meat during grilling as well as adding some
flavor enhancement to the meat through the marinating process.
- Chipotle powder: If
good chipotle powder is not available in your area, you can order by mail from Tierra
.Their chipotle powders are available in many heat levels and are classically smoky.
- Sherry Vinegar: I use
only La Bodega brand, which is full-bodied, aged sherry vinegar from Spain. Don't bother
using the garden variety product that's sold as "sherry vinegar" in many
supermarkets. You won't get the same result.
- Black-eyed peas: If
fresh black-eyed peas aren't available in your area, don't use a dried
variety. Instead, use whatever fresh legume you can find (cranberry beans, pinto beans,
etc.) or use fresh corn kernels.
- Thin-fleshed chiles:
Chiles have much thinner flesh than sweet bell peppers. So they remain firmer when cooked.
If these types of chiles aren't available in your area, you can use standard red, yellow
and green bell peppers, but they will be mushier in texture.
- Fleshy membrane:
This fleshy, whitish-colored membrane inside the chile holds the highest concentration of
capsicin, the substance that gives chiles their heat. You can tone down a really hot chile
by carefully removing this inner membrane with a sharp knife.