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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> fiery foods

Curry-ing Favor at Christmas

Posted by: Neil Travis Honaker

Tagged in: holidays , fiery foods

By Neil Travis Honaker

The weather outside may not have been frightful, but it was darn cold for this time of year in Kentucky. A skiff of snow lay on the ground making the roads just slick enough to send traffic into a tailspin--literally. So when my neighbor called and asked how curry chicken sounded for dinner, I knew that the temperature inside was going to be more hospitable. In other words, it was a great night to spend indoors with a roaring fire and pots on the stove.

When I was younger and first discovering a love of cooking, I was never really certain if curry referred to a spice mixture, a type of cuisine, a method of cooking or an ingredient. Of course, it's a little of all of these things. Over the years it's a flavor I've grown to love, although one I don't enjoy nearly often enough. As the evening progressed, I found I was playing very little part in the cooking, being relegated primarily to stirring the curry and tending to the fireplace. Since my neighbor Charlotte had more experience cooking Indian cuisine, I was content to sit back, watch and learn. Accompanying the dinner would be an Indian rice dish Charlotte learned from a friend, who had in turn learned in from an Indian cook while living in the Middle East. The fact that curry has no fixed recipe made the evening's culinary experimentation all the more interesting. We cooked adding a little of this and that, tasting as we went, all the while discussing the flavors of the curry as it developed. As the fire warmed the house, the curry began to scent the kitchen. Of course we could have search on the internet for a curry recipe, but the dish would not have been as much fun to prepare. Like curry itself which differs region to region (and sometimes even family to family) we were creating it to our own tastes which were very much a product of that night, the weather outside and our particular moods that evening.

Food, friends and a roaring fire. It turned out the night wasn't going to be that cold and dreary after all.

Curry Chicken

Vegetable oil
2 to 2-1/2 lbs chicken breast, quartered
3 to 4 medium shallots, minced
1 habanero chile pepper, minced (without the seeds) - you can substitute a jalapeño for a less spicy version
2 tablespoons flour
 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
8 ounces chicken stock
Juice of one lime
3  to 4 tablespoons curry powder
1 to 2 tablespoons  Garam Masala
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan. Add in the chicken pieces and saute until the chicken starts to brown, approx. 5 minutes. Do not cook the chicken all the way through. Add a small amount of oil to pan in which you sauteed the chicken. Saute the shallots and habanero in the oil until fragrant, but not browned. Add the flour and stir constantly (just like making a roux). Add the chicken stock a little at a time and keep stirring. When the mixture starts to come together, add the rest of the stock and the coconut milk. Stir in two tablespoons of curry powder and one tablespoon of Garam Masala. Let the mixture simmer for a while, then taste. Add salt and pepper as required, and more curry and Garam Masala as desired. Continue simmering and add the juice of one lime. When the mixture is well combined, fragrant and tasty, add in the chicken pieces. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is done (approx. 20 to 25 minutes). Serve with Indian rice. For an even spicier curry add either ground cayenne or hot curry powder to the sauce before adding the chicken.

Yield 3 to 4 servings
Heat Level: Medium to very hot, depending on your taste

Indian Rice

Vegetable oil
1 cup long grain Indian Basmati rice
1 3/4 C water
Cinnamon sticks
Whole Cloves
Whole Cardamom
Whole Coriander

Add a small amount of oil to medium pot (large enough to add water to later and cook the rice). Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces. Count the number of cinnamon pieces and cardamon seeds (you'll want to remove these later before serving the rice, so you need to know how much is in the mixture). Saute the spices in the oil until fragrant. Add the rice and stir constantly until coated with the spices and oil. Add the water, bring to a boil, then drop the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is finished.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Nobilo Regional Collection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008


While I would have been content to never leave the house, I did venture out long enough to pick up something to drink with dinner. Although I love Indian food, I can't claim to have eaten very much of it or really to know anything about it. I made an inquiry at the Liquor Barn (in Kentucky everything it seems is named after a barn) and was pointed in the direction of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough district of New Zealand. As it turned out it was a excellent accompaniment to the dinner. The Nobilo had bright, citrus flavors and paired perfectly with the aromatic curry .


Nduja: The Spicy, Spreadable Salami

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: fiery foods , bacon

I am constantly amazed to discover spicy Italian foods I've never heard of before. Marco Budinis, one of my Italian chilehead friends, recently attended Natalidea, a Christmas trade show in Genoa, where he bought some nduja and sent me a pic of it, below. Nduja is a soft, spicy hot, spreadable salami considered to be one of the most famous, if not the most famous, of typical Calabrian foods. Nduja originates from Spilinga, though great nduja can be found in all areas of Monte Poro. The name nduja (I have no earthly idea how it's pronounced) comes from the french word "andouille," which means "sausage." Nduja is made with pork meat, a bit of fat, salt, and a lot of red chile powder, so it is quite spicy. This spiced paste is either put in jars to use as a spread or is stuffed into a casing just like salami. It was a good way to preserve the fat, if you were lucky enough to have a pig to slaughter or access to its offal. It is probably the earliest form of Calabrian convenience food, as it can easily be rendered in a saute pan with chopped onions, garlic, and either a few fresh tomatoes or a small jar of tomato sauce, and then tossed with cooked pasta like penne.

Quick Nduja

1/2 pound finely chopped bacon
2 ounces finely chopped pork shoulder
2 tablespoons ground red chile, hot (some recipes call for smoked chiles or hot smoked paprika)
1-2 tablespoons sea salt

Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Place the mixture in an old-fashioned meat grinder and process through a fine die. You can also use a food processor, but use the pulse mode so that you don't over process or overheat the mixture.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups
Heat Scale: Hot

Photo by Marco Budinis


During the winter, my thoughts travel south to the Caribbean and I remember all our great trips and the recipes we collected.  Recently I've been adding articles about these trips, including one by Nancy Gerlach.

  • Belize, 1988, here.
  • Trinidad & Tobago, 1992, here.
  • British Virgin Islands, 1995, here.
  • Barbados, 1996, here.



Holiday Articles

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: holidays , fiery foods

Here are some articles and recipes to spice up your holidays:

  • "Red and Green for the Holidays"--Nancy's classic article, here.
  • "A Deep-Fried Cajun Turkey for Christmas," here.
  • "A Multicultural Holiday Feast," here.
  • "Christmas Latin American-American Style," here.

 Nancy Gerlach reports from Yucatán: 

I never thought I'd miss New Mexico chile so soon, but I do. The only fresh green chiles that are available here are poblanos. Of coarse we do get fresh jalapeños, habaneros, xcatik, and serranos. Last week I made a batch of my barbecue sauce substituting guajillos for the NM red and it didn't have a sweet chile flavor that you get with NM red. It was good, just different. I am convinced that there are absolutely no better tasting chiles than NM green and red.

I also want to report that the hot jalapeño is alive and well and growing in Mexico. I think you and I had a discussion before I left about how tame they had become in the U.S. and were almost as wild as a bell pepper. I actually stopped eating them and was substituting serranos in recipes. We bought some big jalapeños from our produce lady at the local market a couple of weeks ago and decided to make rellenos out of them with some leftover cochinita pibil that I had made. I took one small bite and I thought the top of my head was coming off! I flushed bright red, broke out in a sweat, and almost started hiccuping. The heat level of those puppies was almost as high as some habaneros and I thought of you and your reaction to them in the "old days." The next time we were at the stand, we told them about how hot they were and our reactions. Everyone around had a good laugh, and then we asked for more. 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to taste and judge about a hundred fiery foods and barbecue products in four hours?  Well, food writer Larry Greenly has been doing it for years as one of our expert judges.  He gives the inside story of what it's like, here.

Thailand: Making "Chile Water"

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: new content , fiery foods

Nam phrik, literally "chile water," is the name of a family of spicy dips or relishes from Thailand. Normally eaten with rice and fresh or parboiled vegetables, nam phriks are well known to all Thais but rarely seem to make it out of the country. They can even be hard to find in Thai restaurants in Thailand. They are generally homemade, often prepared using a well-worn granite mortar and pestle, and the recipes are as numerous as the chefs who grind them.  Here is the full story.

New technological advances in roasting and peeling New Mexico green chile have created InstantChile Futuro, which is much tastier than the canned green chile you find in supermarkets. Go here to read the entire story, plus recipes. 

Tantalizing Tamales

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: new content , fiery foods

Today, more than 500 years after European explorers first reached the New World, it is almost impossible to imagine that until the 16th century, the Swiss had no chocolate or vanilla in their pantries, the Italians had no tomatoes, the Irish no potatoes, the Chinese no chile peppers--and none had corn. Get the whole story here.


At left is a mockup of what will be the Show Program that will be distributed at the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, Feb.27-Mar. 1, 2009.  It will have Exhibitor Listings and Scovie Winners inside, as well as enhanced listings and display advertising.  We have posted a page on the SuperSite that has:

--SuperSite Banner Advertising Rates

--Show Program Display Advertising Rates and Sizes

--Enhanced Listings Rates and Sizes

Access the Advertising Rates here.

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