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Dave's Fiery Front Page

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James BeckJames Beck of EatMoreHeat.com is my first guest on the new weekly feature of the SuperSite, and he discusses eating superhot chiles and finishing an Apocalypse Burger.  Upcoming guests are Dave Hirschkop who invented Insanity Sauce; chemical engineer Marlin Bensinger, who tests the superhot chiles in his own lab; Jim Garcia of El Pinto Salsa, discussing Scorpion Salsa and the purported "chile crisis;" and Chris Fowler, who uses a polytunnel to grow chillis near Cardiff, Wales.  To hear James on the first podcast, go here.

 


Chile Harvesting, Mesilla Valley, New MexicoWhen the media get wind of a typical change in the ever-fluctuating world of economic agriculture, they just have to turn it into a crisis. Take the drop in harvested chile acreage over the last decade or so—down to 8,700 acres from a high of 29,000. Is this a "crisis" or merely a reflection of economic reality? I think the latter. Chiles compete against other crops that are often more profitable to grow: pecans, cotton, and even onions. Also contributing are the loss of agricultural land to development, cheaper imports from Mexico, and the necessity to use human labor to harvest green chile. (Red chile can be mechanically harvested, but not green...yet.)

Kraig Kraft, coauthor of a new book, Chasing Chiles, wrote an op-ed piece the the Albuquerque Journal (5-15-11) in which part of the headline refers to "fake N.M. chiles," a reference to chiles from Mexico that are imported for processing in southern New Mexico because local growers can't keep up with demand due to the competition from other crops. But ignored in this discussion is the fact that these are New Mexico varieties like 'NuMex 6-4 Heritage', developed by Dr. Paul Bosland's chile breeding team, and the seeds provided to Mexican growers. If you really, really want your chile, does it really matter if it is grown in the Mesilla Valley or 100 miles south of there in Chihuahua?  I don't think so.


The real problems lie below the surface of the hype and screaming of "fake chiles."  Here they are:

1.  The real fake chiles are "Hatch chiles."  There is no such thing.  "Hatch chiles" are a complete fabrication.  There is no such variety.  Hatch farmers devote most of their fields to alfalfa, and cannot possibly grow all the chiles labeled with the name of that tiny town.

2. New Mexican varieties are only part of the crop processed in southern New Mexico.  Even more important are the cayennes, paprika (non-pungent red chiles, by definition), and jalapeños.

3.  The New Mexico chiles deserving what Kraft calls "geographic indicators" (similar to Idaho potatoes and Florida oranges) are the endangered heirloom or land race chiles of northern New Mexico, like 'Chimayo'.

The recently-passed New Mexico Chile Advertising Act, which supposedly prohibits the advertising of chiles listed as New Mexican but not grown in the state, is a joke.  It is totally unenforceable, which renders it useless, and is another attempt by politicians to place a "legal fix" upon what is really just an economic fact of life brought on by changing times, NAFTA, and the ability of farmers in other countries to grow New Mexican varieties to meet the demand here.


SuperSite Comments Made Easier

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Comment ImageTo encourage and promote comments on the SuperSite and Dave's Fiery Front Page Blog, we have eliminated the necessity to register and login to comment.  Comments will still be moderated before posting, but we will do that daily, so please feel free to comment as you like all over the SuperSite.


Chile Podcasts LogoSunbelt Shows, Inc., owner of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite, has announced the launch of Dave DeWitt's Chile Podcasts, a weekly audio show that features interviews with the top leaders and characters in the fiery foods and barbecue industries.  The theme of the first series of three podcasts is "SuperHot" and features interviews with James Beck of EatMoreHeat.com, famous for his tortured consumption of the Apocalypse Burger and others; Dave Hirschkop of Dave's Gourmet, manufacturer of Dave's Insanity Sauce; and chemical engineer Marlin Bensinger, the world's foremost expert on capsaicin. The first three interviews have been recorded and are in post-production.

"These first Chile Podcasts give everyone a chance to listen to people they've only read about," said DeWitt, "and get an insider's view of what's going on behind the scenes in the world of superhot peppers and products."  Producing the Chile Podcasts is David Wolf of America Markets Media in Albuquerque, who said that the first one will be posted "very soon."  Illustrated transcripts of all the podcasts will also be posted.


Bedding Plants from Cross Country NurseriesHere's what my superhot chiles ('Trinidad Scorpion' and '7Pot') look like after they arrived from Cross Country (chileplants.com).  They are healthy and vigorous, and are now hardening off under the semi-shade of my potted Meyer lemon plant (which already has small lemons on it).  I've been doing business with Cross Country for a decade, and they never disappoint me with their 500 chile varieties and 275 tomato varieties.  There's only a couple of weeks left to order yours!


New Issue of Burn! Available

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Burn!-May-June-2011Hey all you lovers of peppers, smoke, and sauce, the new issue of Burn! Magazine is on the virtual newsstand and ready for reading.

I hope you’ll enjoy the newest issue. It’s chock full of great information like a how-to for making your own pastrami, an article all about salsa, recipes for Cinco de Mayo, a recap of the 2011 National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show, and much more. I even share the story of how hot sauce saved my marriage.

If you liked the debut issue, you’re going to love issue #2. Click here to subscribe!

Lois Manno, Burn! Magazine Editor


Spicy Spring Grilling, 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: recipe , grilling

 

Asado Short Ribs

Noted barbecue expert Rick Browne, Ph.B., is the author of numerous books on the subject and has searched the world for great BBQ stories and recipes, like this one.  He was the host of "Barbecue America" on PBS.

Asado on the grill.

To get South American style beef ribs have the butcher cut through the bone and produce strips of ribs. So you’ll have a long strip of: meat, then a piece of bone, then meat, then bone, and so on and so forth. There’s no marinade except olive oil, a few spices, and salt and pepper—this is because you're meant to serve your meat with Chimmichurri sauce.  That recipe is here.

1/2 cup coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt 6 pounds beef ribs, trimmed and cut across the bones
2 bottles of your favorite beer 

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to 300 degrees F.

For the rub, in a small bowl, combine the pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and mix well. 

Rub the ribs with the spice mixture and transfer them to a covered roasting pan or Dutch oven. Pour beer around the beef (not over it), cover the pan, and cook over direct heat on the barbecue for 3 hours.

Remove the ribs from the pan and cut into individual portions. Transfer the ribs back to the grill, close the grill cover, and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until they are crusty and tender. Serve with chimichurri sauce. 

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 


From The Southwest Table 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: recipe , history , grilling , fiery foods

Cover of The Southwest TableEveryone is invited to our Cinco de Mayo Book Launch Demo and Signing.  I'll be cooking some spicy dishes on a Disc-It for sampling, and the restaurant will provide snacks, or you can order drinks and lunch.  Bookworks will be selling the books, and I'll personally dedicate them for you.  Assisting me will be my niece and food editor, Emily DeWitt-Cisneros. 5/5, 12 noon on the main patio at El Pinto Restaurant, 10500 4th Street, Albuquerque, NM 87114.  But if you can't make it, you can always buy the book here.

New Mexico's First Livestock


The top seller of live chile bedding plants in the country, Cross Country Nurseries, dba ChilePlants.com, has listed their top five best selling varieties, and it's no surprise that superhots dominate the list.

 

Bhut JolokiaThis position figures because of all the superhots, Bhuts have garnered the most publicity over the past few years, and it doesn't seem to matter that it's been dethroned as the hottest pepper in the world.

 

Trinidad ScorpionComing on strong is this variety, now generally thought to be the hottest, at the upper levels measuring 1.2 to 1.4 million Scoville Heat Units.  It has a better name and a more interesting pod shape.

 

7-PotThe third Trinidad variety in a row places in the top 3, showing the remarkable trend of superhots originating in the country of Trinidad & Tobago.

 

Habanero Red SavinaThis plant-patented variety is generally thought to be a variation on the 'Red Caribbean' varieties that are spread around the islands.  It never tested as hot as 577,000 SHU in any other laboratory tests except the one that got it the Guinness record.

 

Bhut Jolokia YellowA bit of a surprise in the number 5 position is this yellow variation of the 'Bhut Jolokia', which is becoming a favorite of chile gardeners.

 

Hats and caps off to Janie and Fernando of Chileplants.com for helping us all out by providing 500 chile varieties.  And what am I growing out of all these superhots?  Scorpion, of course!


Cooking "Stone Soup"

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: tasty travel , recipe , fiery foods

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Gourds Being Fashioned Into GuajesDown here at the tip of the Baja California peninsula, I have stumbled across an pre-Hispanic chile pepper soup that uses river stones as the heat for cooking.  The Chinoteco tribe of Pueblo San Felipe Usila was a fishing based culture, and their fishermen used pear-shaped guajes, or gourd pots, told hold their fresh water while ocean fishing.  But after the catch, they used guajes cut in half to make bowls for cooking their fish chowder because the gourds of course, could not be placed over an open flame. They heated up smooth stones in a fire to accomplish this according to the recipe below. Totally ingenious, and you can replicate it today!

Stone Soup, Chinoteco-Style

The "river stones" used to cook the soup are smooth stones, usually polished over centuries by moving water, that are about four inches wide and two inches thick.  Similar stones are sold by nurseries as garden decorations. Use your barbecue grill to heat the stones as hot as you can get them and use long tongs with wooden handles to transfer them to the cooking bowl.

6 river stones, heated as hot as you can get them on the grill

6 large dried gourds cut like bowls or other large bowls

2 pounds snapper or other white fish, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 sprigs cilantro

2 springs epazote

2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 serrano chiles, finely chopped

Water or fish or clam broth as needed

Mix all of the soup ingredients except the water or broth in a large bowl, and then divide it evenly among the 6 bowls. Add the water or broth until each bowl is 3/4 full. Add a stone to each bowl and let the soup boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the stones and serve the soup carefully.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium


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