No one seems to know how long red chilies have been in huge favor. Two personal observations are that when visiting the Egyptian exhibit in the famous Paris museum, the Louvre, I noted an ancient mummy was buried with tiny red chilies for the after life. Also, an exhibit of ancient South American burial items revealed those same tiny red chiles.
Amazing how long ago chilies had traveled from their supposed origin of the Rio Grande valley in North America to Africa and South America! Chiles have been proven to be habit forming, yet they are a cousin of nicotainia or tobacco which all agree is definitely addictive.
And the ancients discovered long, long ago the superior anti-oxidivative properties of red chiles. Today, red chilies are known to be the world's best natural anti-oxidant.
Another interesting historical fact is that in mainland China, chiles were not allowed to be consumed as a food, except in Mongolia, where the nomadic population was too difficult to police . It wasn't until the Communist takeover in the mid forties that chiles were released to be consumed as a food. Remember how Sezhuan and other spicey Chinese dishes started to become popular over here about a decade or more later?
The popular Northern New Mexican dish, Carne Adobado, started with the preservation qualities of red chile. When the Spanish brought pork to the Americas, in Northern New Mexico, the Spanish were perplexed about how to preserve the pork after butchering a 300 pound or so hog. The local Pueblo Indians taught them to scour out the hide, and to rub the recently butchered pork generously with the dried local red chilies and add wild garlic and Mexican Oregano and tightly close it up and bury it several feet below the earth's surface (similar to how dog's preserve their bones). This way the pork would last weeks or months. To this day, Carne Adobado is a favorite local dish.
The Caribe chilies which were given to the Conquistadores by the Caribbean Indians and were the chile originally used and still are. And we sell it. Caribe chile has a moderate heat level of 15,000 Scoville heat units on average. I will talk about heat unit measurement in a future blog.
So you can enjoy our famous Caribe chile and make your own Carne Aobado , I am placing it on a 25% off sale for the rest of the week. We also make Carne in many of our classes, the weekend, week long and some special Red Chile classes. (Sorry ,this week's class is sold out where we will also be preparing it.) In addition to using caribe for making Carne, I use it frequently as a confetti garnish for such dishes as Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, on Grilled Corn and to add a bit of spark to most any dish.
Curious to know tons more about chilies? Register for our "All About Chiles" online course where you will get over 150 well tested chile laden recipes and learn great to know facts and health information. I am discounting the course for the rest of the week by 20%.
Here is my very favorite way to make Carne--
(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 slices (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. And it will freeze for many months.