Vegetarian posole stew

We’d like to be the first to say Feliz Cinco de Mayo. It’s always a red-letter day here at Chile Trail HQ but even more so this year because – drumroll please – it falls on a Saturday. Can you believe it? No, we can’t either. Let’s just say that it’s Cinco & Seis de Mayo. Heck, let’s throw in Friday too and call it Cuatro, Cinco, Seis de Mayo. Ok, maybe a bit too long but you get the point.

So you know what’s on our minds. Yep, food. Everyone has a favourite but we’ve got a couple of thoughts (naturally).

Number one: make sure there’s a lot of it. There is nothing worse that running out of food and drink. People, your guests are hungry. They’re thirsty. Stock up.

Number two: variety. You’ve got your mole, you’ve got your guacamole, you’ve got your tres leche cake. This is a time to test the architectural endurance of your dining room table. We’re talking heaving folks.

Number three: delegate. You didn’t actually think we expected you to cook all that food, did you? Of course not. When someone asks what they can bring, tell ‘em. And when you ask us – and we know you will, right? – we’ll be bringing a pot of posole.

Now you know posole, but this one is vegetarian and vegan, all in one lip smacking tasty bowl of happiness. It’s so good that even the most committed carnivores will be pushing over old ladies to get a bowlful. But please don’t. There’s plenty to go around.

Vegetarian posole stew

1-12oz package of white corn posole

1-1oz package of posole spice blend

3 small zucchini, about 10-12 oz, sliced into discs (diced if larger)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small clove garlic, minced

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish (optional)

Chopped green onions

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Sliced avocado

Place the posole in a non-reactive bowl or pan and cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. Put the posole in a large pot, cover with water and simmer for one hour.

Drain and add the posole mix and enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 3 hours or until the posole has ‘popped’ and is tender. Check the water levels periodically and top up as needed.

Just before serving, warm the oil and sauté the zucchini over medium-high heat, just until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and the zucchini into the posole. Taste and season with salt and more chile if you desire.

Serve in bowls with your choice of garnishes.

Chile Portrait: Mulato Chiles

Think chiles and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Heat, right? We’re talking tongue-tingling, throat-scorching, mind-blowing hot. All you’ve got to do is check out a chile eating contest and you can see that when it comes to heat, there’s no pain, no gain. As we speak, growers around the world are busy coming up with new chile varieties that push the bounds of the Scoville index and promise us new ways to incinerate our taste buds.

FIG JAM 1

But guess what? It’s not all about heat. Sure, heat is great but the flavor you get from a chile is much more complex than that. Don’t believe me? Just take a great dried chile and give it a whiff. Depending on the variety you’ll pick up hints of berry, dried fruit, even chocolate. And a really good chile has a complexity that keeps you coming back for more.

Take the Mulato chile. It hails from Mexico and is a dried Poblano. Ancho is a dried Poblano too, but the they come from different varieties. Mulato is a bit smokier than an Ancho with hints of cherry and tobacco. Along with it’s bro Ancho, and the Pasilla, it makes up the ‘Holy Trinity’ of chiles used to create a killer mole.

Not too shabby is it? The Mulato is about 2-3” wide across the shoulders and 4-5” long with a medium thick skin. It’s darker than the Ancho – a dark brown almost black color. You’ll find it used in soups, stews and sauces. Is it super spicy? Is it going to tip the Scoville scale? Heck no. But it gives food a lovely warmth and depth – a heat that doesn’t whack you upside the head but instead wants to cuddle on the couch.

And be honest, we could all use a cuddle couldn’t we?

FIG JAM 4Chile Fig Jam

This is super-duper easy and most definitely delicious. I’ve used pre-soaked figs (for no other reason than that’s what my store had on hand) but regular dried figs are absolutely fine. I used Smyrna figs from Turkey but Black Mission figs would be yummy too.

8 ounces dried fig, stems removed
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Mulato chile, whole dried
Pinch of salt

Place the water, sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and chile in a saucepan. If you’re using dried figs add them now as well – if you’re using pre-soaked hold off. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the chile and figs (if you’ve added) are soft but not mushy – about 8-10 minutes. If you’re using pre-soaked figs, add them in after about 7-8 minutes, once the chile has softened then cook for another few minutes.

FIG JAM 2

FIG JAM 3The liquid should be slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. When the chile is cool enough to handle, remove the stem but leave the seeds. Strain the entire mixture and place the figs and chile in the small bowl of a food processor. Puree, adding enough of the liquid to form a rough paste. You can adjust the amount of liquid to suit your taste. If you have any of the liquid left, you can further reduce it and drizzle over ice cream or yogurt.

Place the jam in a clean jar and serve with bread or pecorino cheese. Refrigerate. Will keep for about a week.

FIG JAM 5

FIG JAM 6

The Chile Trail Thanksgiving Survival Guide: 6 Tips for a Less-Stress Thanksgiving

You’ve tried everything.

1. You’ve brined it. You’ve deep-fried it. You’ve even tried (and failed) the infamous turkducken. So this year I want you to repeat after me, “It’s just a super-sized chicken. It’s just a super-sized chicken…”. Give it a chile spice rub, slather it in butter and wack it in the oven. Set the timer, watch the parade, and chill. Okay?

If you’re still not satisfied, try Turkey Mole on for size. We’ve adapted a recipe from Chef Douglas Rodriguez and our own John Vollerston from Las Cosas Cooking School here in Santa Fe. They have reduced the time and preparation by creating a mole-inspired dry rub you can massage into ole Tom before he hits the oven. Hint: Make a double batch of the rub-it’s addictive-then use it to season Chicken and Pork.

Mole Rub
(Makes about 11/3 cups)

¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup salt
2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
2 tbsp corn Masa (available in the flour section of most grocery stores)
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground mild New Mexican red chile powder
1 tbsp Ancho chile powder
1 tbsp Chipotle chile powder
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp toasted and ground coriander seeds
½ tsp Mexican Oregano

Mix together all the ingredients. Use at once or store in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to 3 months. For the Turkey1 (18-20-pound) turkey; neck, heart, and gizzard removed 5 ½ cups chicken stock 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
Place thawed turkey on rack set in large roasting pan; tuck wings under. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon mole rub in main cavity of turkey and ½ cup spice mixture all over and under turkey skin; tie legs together to hold shape. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Let turkey stand 1 hour at room temperature. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 450º. Brush turkey with vegetable oil and sprinkle with an additional ¼ cup of the mole rub. Pour 1½ cups chicken stock into pan with turkey. Reduce heat to 350º; place pan in oven and roast turkey 2 hours. Add 2 cups broth to pan; roast 1 hour. Pour 2 cups broth over turkey; cover turkey loosely with foil. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175º, about 1 hour longer. Transfer turkey to platter, tent loosely with foil and kitchen towel, and let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature of turkey will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Skim fat from the pan reserving juices. Carve and serve with mole broth that is left in the pan after skimming. Enjoy!

2. While you’re giving that bad-boy-bird a spice rub with one hand, make a bloody mary with the other. Make it easy with Los C’s mix (hide the packet and say you made it yourself. We won’t tell). If you want to get all Martha Stewart, then wet the rim of your glass and dip it in a mixture of kosher salt and chile powder. Won’t you be popular!

3. Everything at Thanksgiving tastes better with chile. That includes mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and candied yams. We’ve even tossed a pinch in the ‘ole pumpkin pie when grandma wasn’t watching. Cranberry sauce? Maybe not. But come to think of it…

Red Chile Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 6-8

3 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon hot New Mexico red chile powder
1/4 cup mild New Mexico red chile powder
1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper

Spread potatoes on paper towels and dry well. In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, cream, milk, sour cream, cheese, red chiles, cumin, and salt. Butter a 4 qt. casserole dish. Place potatoes in a large bowl and pour milk/cream mixture over them. Stir to completely coat potatoes. Place potatoes in casserole dish and crack fresh ground pepper over potatoes. Cover and bake at 400º for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking until potatoes are tender and casserole is bubbling and nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

4. You made it through the Thanksgiving meal. You’ve ingested 3,500 calories. Now you’re hanging out watching a bowl game and you realize – OH NO! – I haven’t eaten in at least 20 minutes. Don’t panic! Have a batch (or 2) of these on hand when you get those post-turkey munchies.

Sweet & Spicy Pecans
Makes 2 cups

2 cups pecan halves
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp chipotle powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toss them gently so they’re lightly browned but make sure they don’t burn. Remove the pecans from the pan. Add the butter and melt, then stir in the remaining ingredients. When the sugar has dissolved, add the pecans back to the pan. Stir for a few minutes until the pecans are well-coated. Remove from the pan and place them on a sheet of parchment paper. Separate the nuts with a fork (no fingers – they’re very hot!) and allow to cool until the sugar mixture has hardened onto the pecans.

5. Leftovers. You knew it was going to happen. Whip up some Turkey Enchiladas and feel the turkey glow.

6. If all else fails, forget the turkey. Order a pizza and top it with some green chile. Go on. You know you want to.