Ever wonder what that unique southwestern flavor was in ranch style beans? Many people have come up to me and asked why they just could not make a dish taste southwestern. Most of the time, it is because many people think that the NuMex type chile is all we use in the southwest. This is simply not true. Little known in the US is a chile with tons of flavor and lots of personality. This is the Ancho. In its mature form we call it an Ancho. In its immature form, we call it a Poblano. Now everyone in the room sits up and says “hey I have heard of that one!” This pepper has a nice heat with overtones of tobacco and oak. It is a must for a good pot of southwestern beans…..NO SUGAR PLEASE. Next time you are looking for full flavor while grilling give this pepper a chance. It will not disappoint you.
Many people ask me “what is the hottest part of the chile?” If you say it is the seeds, you are wrong. The seeds have little to no flavor at all. In all chiles, except for the family chinense, the heat is found in the placenta. Capsicum, is concentrated in a vein that will be visible in a yellow to dark brown coloration in the placenta. The darker the vein, usually the higher the concentration of capsicum. The placenta is where the seeds are attached inside the chile. This is where the confusion occurs. If you deseed a chile, many times, you will remove the placenta also. There is the rub. If you happen to miss some of it, you will still have pungency. The chinense family of chiles (the one that has habanero and ghost peppers in it are a bit different. The capsicum is spread through-out the chile.
With the heat of the summer, I thought I would give everyone a nice cool recipe. This salad is not only incredibly tasty but it is easy. I like salad but I need a little protein with most meals. Shrimp is good served cold and really changes a boring dish if done right. Fiesta Green Serrano Blend is great on any type of fish or recipe that you want to give a nice flavor to but not cover it up.
- Spinach 3 cups
- Red Onion 1/2 ea
- Pineapple 1 cup
- Mango 2 ea
- Jalapeno 2 ea
- Avocado 2 ea
- Tomato 2 ea
- Precooked Shrimp 1 lb.
- Lime 1 ea
- Cucumber 1 ea
- White Wine Vinegar 3 TBS
Chill the precooked shrimp to ensure it is crisp.
Take red onion, cucumber, jalapeno, pineapple, mango, cilantro, and tomato and chop them to a nice size. Mix these chopped ingredients into the washed spinach. Slice the mango and avocado to your desired size. Many folks like to get larger bites of these items. Add the chilled shrimp. Add the mango, avocado and fluff the salad while adding salt, pepper, and vinegar.
Squeeze lime juice over the salad. This is made easier by placing the lime in the microwave for not more than 20 seconds. We use a juicer as shown in the picture. The tangy lime juice really sets off the diversity of flavors in this mix.
Now all you have left to add is the Fiesta Green Serrano Blend an the Fiesta Garlic Blend and gently fluff your salad again. Go lightly at first. You can always add more later.
Today I would like to talk a little about the Guajillo Chile. Many who look at it in the store would not tell it apart from a common Anaheim Chile. It is really quite different. The Guajillo is probably the most commonly used pepper Mexican cooking in the northern states of Mexico. It is used as the Anaheim or Nu-Mex chile is used in the southwest United States but it has much more flavor. Not usually eaten in its immature form, the Guajillo has a fruity ‘back ground’ flavor along with the pungent chile flavor we expect from chile. It is a Capsicum Annum and does not usually exceed 30,000 SHU. This means it is not too terribly hot. Mostly used for sauces and pastes, it is a favorite for enchiladas. It is an important part of Mole. You can tell it apart from common Anaheim Chile by looking at the flesh. It is slightly streaked and a bit greasy in the dried form. the stem is also markedly smaller.
The jalapeño is probably the most common and most manipulated of all chiles. It ranges from no heat to hot enough to make you chug your drink (typically 20,000 to 40,000 SHU). By no means is it a super hot, but it is where most get introduced to spiciness. They range from small to large and from fat to skinny.
These peppers are a mystery to many who wonder why each time they get one it tastes different. Here in the borderland and across the southwest they are a necessity to those eating nachos, tacos, or pico de gallo. In short, they are a diverse group in the great landscape of the chile.
Jalapeños have been bred for many different applications. Your common jalapeño, at 20,000 scoville heat units, has a unique flavor and texture. It is relatively uniform in color, shape and size. Growers have since bred them to replace bell peppers which have no heat, but are difficult to process due to the large core. These jalapeños taste like lettuce, less than 500 scoville heat units. Chipotle is made from jalapeños. The smoking and drying of the chipotle process shrinks the peppers considerably. To counter this the breeders came up with bigger jalapeños. Since chipotle is hot, they bred these larger jalapeños hotter. These can range up to as much as 60.000 scoville heat units.
As a consumer, this means that it is a crap shoot each time you go to the grocery store. The grocery stores do not know what variety they are selling or what the heat level is. Jalapeños can be eaten green (immature) or red (mature). The fresh industry is primarily green. The dehydrated industry consists of green, red, and various types of chipotle. The chipotle is made by smoking and dehydrating the jalapeños. We will discuss chipotle later in a separate post. The most recognizable form of the jalapeño is the nacho slice. It is a green jalapeño pepper sliced vertically giving a round wagon wheel like piece. Stuffed jalapeños are popular among grillers.
Red jalapeños have the heat of a green jalapeño with a sweetness from the maturing process. Jalapeño powder allows every dish to have a kick and a full flavor of jalapeño any time of the year. Red jalapeño can be a little strong in flavor for light meats like fish. It tends to go very well in soups, and on red meat and pork. Red jalapeño powder can be added to other chiles to raise the heat level as desired. This is common in dishes like Menudo, Enchiladas, and Chile Colorado.
Chile or Chili? Does it matter?
When it comes to Chipotle Texas and our products, the answer is yes. So let’s start with what chile and chipotle are. Chile is not the same as chili. Chili is a soup like dish made with chile peppers.
We use the term chile because of our proximity to the US / Mexico border and we take this term from the way it is referred to here. If you go further south to Columbia and below it is known as aji. Chile down there is a country.
The most common chile sold in our markets are Long Green Mild (your Numex and Anaheim types), Jalapeno, De Arbol, Bell Pepper, Poblano (Ancho when mature and dried), and Guajillo. Chipotle Morita is a smoked and dehydrated red jalapeno. In the states many people refer to them as chipotle. There are a number of types of chile that can be made into types of chipotle (chipotle verde is a smoked green jalapeno).
We will break it down further as we detail various types of chile here in our blog.
Many folks are confused by the fact that we offer more than one kind of chipotle in our store. The most common or traditional form of chipotle is smoked red jalapeno (chipotle morita), however chipotle is really any variety of smoked, dehydrated chile. In Mexico, chipotle is typically smoked on open pits. It is best when done on mesquite wood. The process takes 7-10 days for any real volume. Each batch must be turned as it is smoked every 3-4 hours to ensure that the top of the pile is smoked as much as the bottom of the pile. This process by it’s nature is inconsistant. Many chile’s get burned and many stay soft. This inconsistancy is part of the joy of using fresh chipotle in your recipes.
Commercial food manufacturing cannot have their recipes tasting different each time so they try to limit these inconsistencies. Unlike product made in Mexico, chipotle and other types of chile that are processed in the United States are required to meet standards. Fortunately, chile does not normally carry too many harmful bacteria unless exposed elsewhere or adulterated. Once dehydrated most chile products or blends are very stable and have little chance of going bad.