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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke

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.


Latest dispatch from the Burn! Blog...

Wine Pairing App on iPhoneHave you ever stood in the wine section at your local grocery store or Costco and felt completely and utterly lost, unsure of which bottle is the right one for you? Finally, you no longer have to be a sommelier to buy wine like one!

A free mobile application is taking the guesswork out of finding and purchasing wine. The new Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app lets you use your smartphone camera to snap a picture of any bottle label bar code in the liquor store. With one click, you can get tasting notes, scores, and food pairings.

“You’re in the wine shop wondering if you should buy the bottle with the castle on its label or the one with the fluffy squirrel,” says Natalie MacLean, the editor of one of the largest wine web sites at www.nataliemaclean.com. She created the tool to make buying wine easier for consumers. “Now you just point and click to find out if that pinot noir actually is a good wine to go with [tomorrow night’s dinner]. No more guesswork based on castles and critters.”

You can scan the wines right in front of you at the store. The app’s key features allow you to:

- Instantly access tasting notes, scores, prices, recipes and food pairings
- Search 150,000 wines at liquor stores across the country
- Track your purchases in your virtual cellar with just a few clicks
- Create a wine journal with your own wine notes and pictures in the app
- Share your wines and pairings on Twitter and Facebook

The app, designed by Fluid Trends, bundles a suite of 10 wine apps including reviews, cellar journals, recipes, food pairings, articles, blog posts, a wine glossary, a bi-weekly newsletter, a Natalie MacLeandirectory of wineries around the world and excerpts from Natalie’s bestselling book Red, White and Drunk All Over as well as her new book out this fall Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines.

A certified sommelier and winner of the World’s Best Wine Writer award at the World Food Media Awards, Natalie wrote and vetted all the pairings and wine reviews in the app rather than relying on computer-generated algorithms and crowd-sourced material. She is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d’Escoffier International, but to amateur wine lovers everywhere, she’s a hero.

Cheers to that!

Download the free  app for iPod Touch or iPhone on iTunes. For BlackBerry, visit App World. For Droid, Nexus One, Nokia, Windows 7 and other smartphones, use the mobilized web site here.


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


Cinco de Mayo StampWe’re cooking up this classic enchilada dish in honor of Cinco de Mayo. This dish features stacked, not rolled, enchiladas covered in ground beef and pork and smothered in red chile sauce. It was originally served at the early 1960s Albuquerque restaurant, Videz. The restaurant was torn down to make way for Interstate 40, but the recipe lives on in the pages of the May/June issue of Burn!

Stacked Red Chile Enchiladas

6 to 8 dried red New Mexican chiles, stems and seeds removed
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano
1/2 pound pork, cubed from a roast or chops
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds very lean ground beef
12 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 medium onion, chopped

Cover the chiles with very hot water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes or until limp and partially rehydrated. Place the chiles in the blender (they should loosely fill 3/4 of the container, if more, make two small batches.) Fill the container up near the top with water. Drop in the clove of garlic and sprinkle the top with the oregano. Add a little salt at this stage if you wish. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes on high or until a homogeneous or orangish-red mixture is obtained.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and add the pork. Cook, covered over a very low heat or uncovered at a slight bubble, for 2 to 3 hours. If cooked uncovered, periodically add water back to original level to maintain proper consistency which I can only describe as medium soupy.
Remove the pork pieces and save for another meal such as carne adovada. Place the chile sauce in the refrigerator and cool. Remove any fat that congeals on the top.

Season the beef with a little salt and pepper and saute in a skillet until the meat is no longer pink. Combine the sauce and beef and simmer, covered, for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.
Fry three tortillas per person in a couple of inches of oil until they are slightly harder than taco shells. As they are removed from the oil with tongs, dip each into the red chile pot until they are fully submerged. Remove, place on a plate and top with some cheese and onion.
Continue the process until the tortillas are stacked three high on each plate.

Ladle red chile, including a small amount of the meat, over the tortilla stack until it is puddled up as deep as it will stand around the base of the stack. Cover the enchilada lightly with grated cheese and place in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Medium

This article was originally posted in the Burn! Blog. Check out more great recipes and articles here.


Spicy Spring Grilling, 2

Posted by: Kelli Bergthold

Tagged in: recipe , grilling , fiery foods

Tuscan Devil ChickenTuscan Devil Chicken

In Italian, this chicken is called pollo alla diavolo because of the addition of crushed red pepperoncini chiles, the same kind that is sprinkled on pizzas to liven them up. Traditionally the chickens are split before grilling, but you can use a rotisserie if you wish–it just takes longer to cook. Adding rosemary branches to the fire makes a very aromatic smoke. Make this a true meal off the grill and serve the devil chicken with Grilled Panzananella Salad and Grilled Jalapeño Polenta.


The Chicken
1 4-pound chicken

Devil Marinade
2/3 cup dry red wine such as Chianti
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 11/2 teaspoons dried
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 11/2 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons crushed red chile, pequin for hot, New Mexican for mild
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using poultry shears, or a heavy knife, cut down both sides of the backbone to cut the chicken in half. Remove the backbone and place the chicken on a cutting board skin side up. Press hard on the breastbone to break it and flatten the bird.
In a bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Coat the chicken with the marinade, place in a plastic bag, and marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Lightly oil a clean grill surface. Remove the chicken and place the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Place chicken on the grill, skin side down and weight down with a cast iron skillet so the chicken remains flat. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes per side, basting frequently with the marinade until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork, or when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. To serve, use a cleaver to chop the split chicken halves into quarters.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Medium


Photo courtesy GailloZafferano.


Chile StethescopeThe much sought after cure for cancer could be heating up. Recent findings from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that capsaicin, the active chemical compound that gives chile peppers their heat, may reduce and even block chronic inflammation pathways in cancer cells.

In an article posted on MD Anderson’s blog, professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., points out that, "Symptoms common in cancer patients, such as depression, fatigue, neuropathic pain, metastases and tumor growth, are due to inflammation. By using capsaicin, we can inhibit these things."

While capsaicin has long been linked to boosting metabolism, lowering the risk of ulcers, and reducing muscle pain and inflammation, scientists say its cancer-curing potential has yet to be fully tapped. One problem holding scientists back?

"Chiles are a double-edged sword -- a little bit is good, but too much is bad," Aggarwal says. "Many people's stomachs can't handle red chile."

In a recent Phase III placebo-controlled trial at the Geisinger Clinical Oncology Program in Danville, Pa., many patients experienced discomfort with a topical capsaicin ointment. And while patients in the trial preferred the capsaicin to the placebo as a pain-reliever, the extreme heat of most pepper varieties may prove too hot to handle – for now, at least.

Read the full article from the MD Anderson Cancer Center here.


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

 


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