Green chile & lime crab with avocado & mango salad


Folks think that at the Chile Trail we’re all about the heat and the hotter the better. Sure, we like things spicy but I’m here to tell you that there is a kinder, gentler side to us too.

Because the truth is, chile doesn’t have to hit you like an 18-wheeler to be good. It doesn’t have to rip your taste buds out and dip them into a hot lava flow. It doesn’t – well, you get the idea, right? Au contraire, mon ami (that’s French btw, and roughly translates “on the contrary sweet lips”).

Chile can be subtle. Chile can be smooth. Chile can be a tease. And frankly, not every dish is up to a Scoville busting, mouth incinerating blast of heat. Take this dish of crab, avocado and mango. It has a hint of heat thanks to some mighty fine Green Chile Powder. A nice hit of lime and a bit of mayo and you’ve something that sings. A sassy little salad on the side of mango and avocado and you’ll hitting all the high notes.

Yes, it’s got chile. Yes, it’s got some heat. But it’s also got class written all over it. And at the Chile Trail we ain’t nothing if we ain’t classy.

Green chile & lime crab with avocado & mango salad

Limes vary tremendously with the amount of juice they give you so you’ll need to do a bit of tasting and testing but we figure around 1- 1 ½ should do you. And don’t scrimp on the mayo – use a nice quality one, it’s worth it.

Serves 3-4

1 lb white crab meat

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1- 1 ½ limes

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp Green Chile Powder, or more to taste

1 avocado, chopped

1 mango, chopped

Salt

Lettuce leaves

Green Chile Caribe to garnish

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Green Chile Powder and half of the lime juice and half of the lime zest together. Add the crab meat and mix gently. Taste, season with salt and add more Green Chile Powder if desired. Place in the fridge covered until ready to serve.

Mix the chopped avocado and mango in a separate bowl, add the remaining lime juice and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

Place some lettuce leaves on each plate. Divide the crab evenly between the plates along with some of the avocado and mango salad. Garnish with the remaining lime zest and a sprinkle of Green Chile Caribe.

 

 

 

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew


Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew

Think comfort food and you think winter. I think comfort food and I think, “Congratulations on making it through another day.” I pull the car into the garage, kiss the driveway (unless it’s summer when it’s so hot my lips would stick to the asphalt) and thank heaven I’m home. I can barely get in the door fast enough, close the curtains and breath a heavy sigh of relief.

Because, let’s face it, between work stress, traffic stress, and emails that ping into your inbox faster than you can delete them, we’re frazzled. We tired, pooped, caput, finito, my friend. What we need is a bit of comfort…that and a winning lottery ticket.

So I like to have a pot of pork, black eyed peas and sweet potato stew ready to heat up. It tastes great the first day and ridiculously good the next. Any leftovers you can pop in the freezer for a rainy day. Of course, I’ve never had leftovers but it’s a thought. And as with all things in life, a dash/jot/avalanche of chile makes it all so much better.

It won’t do your taxes. It won’t deal with that obnoxious know-it-all at work. And no, it won’t walk the dog. But it will handle just about everything else. Honest.

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew.

Make this in a slow cooker or a real low oven, around 250°.

Serves 4

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. oil

1 lb. diced pork

2 Tbsp. Carne Adovada mix (or more to taste)

½ cups stock or water

1 can black eyed peas or other bean

2 small sweet potatoes (about 10oz total weight), peeled and diced

To garnish:

Lime wedges

Avocado slices

Cilantro

Heat a heavy oven proof casserole dish on the stove over medium heat. Sauté the onion in the oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove the onion and garlic to a bowl. Sauté the pork in batches, browning on each side. Add more oil if needed.

Return the onions & garlic back to the pan and add the Carne Adovada. Stir to coat. Add the stock or water until the pork is almost covered. Place in the oven (or you can use a slow cooker) and cook until the meat is tender – 2-3 hours. When the meat is almost done, add the black eyed peas and sweet potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more Carne Adovada  if desired. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro and slices of avocado.

Spicy baked sweet potato wedges with lime

finaldishcentredGoodbye January. I’m sorry you ever darkened our doors. Am I being a bit harsh? Perhaps, and to be honest it’s not January the month that bugs me – it’s all the endless drivel about New Year’s resolutions, ‘clean’ eating, and colonic irrigation that’s got me down. And don’t get me started about dry January…

If you must go monastic in your eating and drinking, then why not do it in July when you can sip your wheatgrass/goji berry/kale smoothie quietly outdoors in a wooded glen away from the rest of us? Meanwhile we’ll be grilling burgers and eating slightly dodgy coleslaw that should have been kept in the refrigerator just a bit longer and enjoying ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-healthy eating, I’m just tired of it being the subject of every cookbook and dinner party. To be honest, I’m more of an all-things-in-immoderation-carpe-diem kind of guy. But if you’re one of those souls who is emerging from detox January, then may I help ease you back into the human race with my Spicy baked sweet potato wedges.

sweetpotatoingredientsYes, baked not fried folks. A hefty one pound sweet potato is tossed in a mere one tablespoon of oil then baked (not fried, did I mention that?) in the oven until oh-so tender. The secret – as in many things in life – is the spice. In this case, Los Chileros Abiquiu Steak Marinade.

sweetpotatoesinpanYes, I hear you voices of descent – steak marinade on sweet potatoes? What will they think of next? But here’s the deal: we call it steak marinade but it’s mighty fine on a whole host of things. The only thing it didn’t work with was when we mixed in a fruit salad but we’re confident that with a few tweaks we’ll have that recipe for you too. In the meantime, try these bad boys. I have a tray in the oven now and the aroma is maddening.

So bring on February – cheers!

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Lime

Serves 3-4

1 lb. sweet potatoes

½- ¾ Tbsp Abiquiu Steak Marinade

1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 325°F

Peel the sweet potato and slice into thick wedges. One large sweet potato should yield about sixteen fat wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Coat with the oil and then rub the spice mixture onto all sides of the wedges, ensuring they’re evenly coated.

Place the pan in the oven. Turn the wedges every fifteen minutes or so until they’re cooked through (a knife or skewer should insert easily). It should take about 45 minutes. Remove, place on a serving platter and serve with the lime wedges.

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Slow cooked lamb with chipotle, lime & honey

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Plated lamb

Turkey is a lot like house guests. The first day, you’re thrilled to see them and can’t believe it’s been so long since their last visit. Day two, you’re cordial. Day three, you offer to help them pack and call a taxi.

Don’t get me wrong – turkey at Thanksgiving is a treat, a tradition and literally the gift that keeps on giving. But that’s where the problem lies; at some point you get tired of leftovers. You’ve made turkey pie, tetrazzini, tacos and of course endless sandwiches. Eventually, you’re ready to see the back of turkey and can barely muster the energy to dump the carcass in a pot to make stock.

It’s exacerbated by the fact that many of us are going to whip up another bird in less than a month’s time. You do a frantic google search for ‘turkey leftover recipes’ and sigh deeply.

So what’s the answer? It’s time for something new. Pop the rest of the bird in the freezer and change culinary directions. At Los Chileros HQ, we fancy a slow cooked lamb shoulder with a spiky, zesty lime, honey, chipotle marinade. It’s the perfect way to wake up dulled taste buds and ideal for winter weather.

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You marinade the lamb overnight then cook it at high heat for about 20 minutes before turning the temperature right down and letting it go nice and slow until the meat falls off the bone. It’s even better if you eat it the next day when the flavors have really had a change to mingle and marry.

Eat it on its own, wrapped up in tortillas or on a bun – the choice is yours. It’s heaven with a bit of slaw and some dill pickles. It will make loads but invite some turkey-fatigued friends over or stash some in the freezer to have on hand at Christmas when you’re wishing the leftover turkey would scram. Go ahead and make it, you’ll thank me in a few week’s time.

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Slow cooked lamb shoulder with chipotle, lime & honey

If you can’t find lamb shoulder or don’t like it (heaven forbid), then you can opt for pork or beef – just go for a cut that likes it low and slow. The good news? These are usually cheaper too so you’ll get more taste and keep a bit of cash in your pocket, handy when you’ve got all those Christmas credit card bills to pay. But let’s not dwell on that thought…

Serves 8+

1 lamb shoulder, bone-in about 7lbs

2 Tbsp Los Chileros Chipotle rub & mix

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp honey

Salt

Place the lamb in a roasting pan. Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub over the lamb. Refrigerate overnight if possible. The next day, remove the pan from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400°F Generously sprinkle some sea salt on the lamb. Place the lamb in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 225°F. Take the lamb out of the oven, cover the roasting pan with a lid or with aluminium foil – you want to make sure you’re keeping the moisture locked inside. Return to the oven and cook at the low temperature for 3-4 hours then check the lamb – it should be falling off the bone – if not cook longer.

When the lamb is done, take it out of the pan and place on a cutting board and cover with aluminium foil. Strain the cooking juices from the pan into a measuring cup or container and place it in the fridge. This will encourage the fat to rise to the top and solidify. Remove the fat and discard then return the juices to the pan. Shred the meat and put it in the pan with the juices. Give a toss to make sure all the meat is coated. Return to the oven to warm before serving with flat bread, rolls, over couscous or rice.

Roasted butternut squash with a chile, lime yogurt sauce

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Halloween – like youth – is wasted on the young. We send out a bunch of adrenalin-fuelled kids to terrorize the neighbours with thinly veiled threats of ‘trick or treat’. Meanwhile, their older hormonally-challenged siblings pelt eggs and strew toilet paper on the homes and yards of long-suffering teachers.

The young ones arrive back home with enough candy to feed a small island state and proceed to eat themselves into a sugar frenzy that ends in tears and tantrums. You get little Susy into bed (finally) just as the phone rings to alert you that her older brother is down at the station, caught red-handed with half a dozen eggs and a can of shaving cream.

Sometime around midnight you collapse into an armchair, clutching a large whiskey like it’s a life jacket on a sinking ship.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we left the kids at home and the adults went out instead? Forget the trick or treating, I’m thinking glam Halloween parties instead. Imagine costumes, but nothing made of rayon or other ghastly fabrics –Swarovski crystals and vintage Dior will do nicely, I think. Music – of course – but ‘70’s disco or classic Motown. Food – natch – will be a more refined offering and candy will be nothing less than 70% dark chocolate.

No eggs, no shaving cream, no toilet paper except in the bathrooms (Diptyque scented candles shimmering seductively, please). This is a kinder, gentler Halloween where order is restored and kids are where they should be – at home doing a rather lengthy and laborious project on the Louisiana Purchase with a babysitter who resembles Mary Poppins in look and attitude.

It’s an idea, right?

Roasted butternut squash with a chile, lime yogurt sauce   

img_0873This recipe looks long but only because I’ve given rather lengthy instructions on cutting up the butternut squash. The basic idea is that you want the squash pieces roughly the same size so they’re done at the same time. I peel butternut squash but you don’t need to – the outer skin is edible or you can remove after cooking. The choice is yours.

Serves 4

1 butternut squash, roughly 2 lbs

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt

½ tsp Ancho chile powder

Sauce

4 Tbsp CO YO coconut milk yogurt

Zest and juice of one lime

1/2 tsp New Mexico green chile powder

1 tsp honey

Garnish

1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

1 tsp New Mexico green chile caribe flakes

Preheat oven to 425°F

I peel my butternut squash as I think it looks nicer but by all means leave the outer skin on if you like. Regardless, slice off a bit from the top and bottom to remove any stem and tail. Then slice the butternut squash into two pieces. Make the cut at the end of the slender neck, right before it bulges out into the round bottom section.

Take the tall ‘neck’ portion and cut it in half creating two short columns the same size. Take one of these and slice it down the middle. Cut one half into four wedges. Repeat with the other half and then again with the other column. You’ll end up with sixteen wedges that are about the same size.

Now take the round bottom section. Slice it down the middle so you have two bowl-shaped pieces. Scoop out the seeds and remove any fibrous bits. Slice each half into six wedges, for a total of twelve wedges.

img_0875Place all the squash onto a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes or so until they’re nicely browned on the outside. If a knife slips in the squash easily, it’s cooked. Give the vegetables a turn every ten minutes or so to ensure they brown evenly. For the last turn, sprinkle with the Ancho chile powder and give a toss.

While the squash is cooking, make the sauce. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, lime juice, Green chile powder and honey. Give a good stir and add salt to season.
img_0878Place the roasted butternut squash on a serving platter. Drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, Green chile caribe and the grated lime zest. Serve hot or at room temperature with any remaining sauce on the side.

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