It is always time to Chile it up! Sometimes with the warm weather we have a tendency to forget the importance of regularly eating chiles. Those of you who have attended my cooking classes may remember my relating the University of the Philipines Chile Study and the latest, Harvard University endorsing the importance of eating chiles. The U of Philipines study found that those who ate at least ½ teaspoon of the hottest chiles they can endure at least two-thirds of the time were free from getting cancer or heart disease. An amazing fact isn’t it.
Actually, when you think about it, some of the countries in the warmest regions of the world eat very hot chile dishes all the time. I thinking about India and Thailand where piping hot spicy dishes are very much a main stay.
An interesting fact about chile eating is that it is “habit forming”, not “addictive” as one of the cousins of chiles is—nicotanium or tobacco. In the event you did not know chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and many many more including tobacco are all members of the night shade family. The reason they are called night shades is that they only ripen at night. All night shades emanated from the Americas. It is rather hard to think about Marinara sauce without tomatoes and Indian and Thai dishes without their intense chile flavor. Ancient traders were responsible for spreading the use of chiles just the same as they spread the use of most all of our popular herbs.
Often people ask if it makes a difference in the healthful aspects of a chile if it is red or green. It does not—the capsaicin or spicy level will be the same. Some of the main differences are that green chiles are high in vitamin C and as they ripen the predominant vitamin changes from C in the green chiles to A in the red ones. Also red chiles are the very best of all the natural anti-oxidants, which means that if a dish such as Carne Adobado has a great deal of chiles it will allow the pork to keep much longer than it would otherwise last.
If you don’t have enough dishes that you serve with lots of chile, you can do as I do—place a small tray of little dishes containing hot chiles so that you can add to whatever you are eating.
To help you with your chile eating, I am putting our ever popular mild and hot chiles on a 25% OFF sale until Friday, April 30 at midnight.
Our next weekend class is coming this weekend and we have a super sale for any who can come. It starts at 5 PM on Friday, 8:30 AM on both Saturday and Sunday. Due to an unexpected death in one of the participants family, we are a bit short handed for this weekend. Click here to find the special deal.
With pork still being quite a bit less expensive than beef, I thought you might like to make a batch of Carne Adobado as it freezes amazingly well and is fabulous any time of day-under eggs at breakfast, open faced tostados or tacos at lunch or dinner or just eat the carne as the main dish.
Following is my very favorite Carne recipe….
(Pork with Red Chile Sauce)
This is one of the best, if not the very best-tasting, pork creations from northern New Mexico. Traceable back to Conquistador days, this dish has somehow never gained favor outside of New Mexico. I think it is because crushed caribe chiles are hard to find outside the area. I always make a full five and one half pound recipe because I like to have lots available for burritos, tacos, and enchiladas, or to serve over or under rice, beans or eggs.
Yield: 10-12 servings
1/2 cup crushed caribe chile
1/4 cup ground mild chile
1/4 cup ground hot chile
3 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
5-1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into ½ inch thick chops (trimmed so as to keep a narrow layer of fat around the edges)
- Process all the ingredients except pork in a blender or food processor. Pour into a flat-bottomed glass baking dish. Dip each pork chop into the marinade and lay to one side of the baking dish as you coat the rest. Let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature, periodically spooning chile mixture over the top and turning chops over. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The pork can be frozen for up to 3 months at this point.)
- In the morning, stir and coat each pork chop with chile sauce. Stir and coat again. Preheat oven to 350F. Cover pan with lid or foil; bake chops, covered for the first 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake 2 to 2-1/2 hours longer, spooning the sauce over chops every 30 minutes. Let cool.
- Using a sharp knife, remove bones and pull meat apart with your fingers to shred the pork into about 25 cent size pieces—do not finely shred the pork. Place shredded meat back in the baking dish and stir to coat the meat pieces. If the sauce in the bottom of the dish is like thin gravy, no need to cover. If it is thick, stir in water to make a gravy and coat each piece of meat and cover Bake at least 30 minutes or longer at 250F to allow the sauce to cook into the pork. When done, the meat should be a bright rosy red color and very tender.
Nine Day Coleslaw
Coleslaw, especially the pickled variety, is often served with Southwestern foods. You can tuck it in tacos and burritos and enjoy it as a side dish with spicy entrees such as enchiladas.
This particular slaw is a wonderful “take-along” for campers and picnickers because it keeps very well without refrigeration. The story goes that it keeps for 9 days, but I’ve never had any last that long!
Yield: About 2 quarts
1 cup salad oil
1 cup white or cider vinegar
1 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons celery seeds
3 pounds cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground back pepper
- Heat the oil, vinegar, sugar and celery seeds until the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes.
- Combine the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Season with the salt and pepper and mix well. Pour hot dressing over the vegetables and let stand for at least 2 hours before serving. Better yet, chill overnight for the best flavor.