Two days after being back from SF, I’m finally hungry again. When you’re trying to pack food experiences into a compressed amount of time, you’re never hungry for 3 meals, let alone afternoon snacks. But I persevered. California delivered a gorgeous week of sunshine, practically a heatwave for early October. Ahhh, vitamin D. And not only that, this past weekend happened to coincide with Fleet Week, the America’s Cup, a post-season Giants game, and a Niners game. But let’s start with an appetizer, shall we? The Ferry Building ended up being a home away from home of sorts, since it was so close to the hotel.
Posts tagged ‘chiles’
It finally rained on Saturday morning, just briefly, but with a clap of thunder that scared the bejeezus out of H. and sent her into our shower and then downstairs to her safe spot. In California it was fireworks, here it’s the occasional thunderstorm. Poor ol’ girl. Skies were still overcast later in the morning, so I slipped on my socks and wellies and headed for the farmers market. Fall had arrived.
At our market, acorn and butternut squash is just coming in, peaches are thinning out, replaced by a new crop of apples. I’m pretending not to see them among the piles and piles of peppers and chiles. And so, this chowder. Poblano corn chowder.
I think it was seeing Rick Bayless win Top Chef Masters season 1 with his Oaxacan Black Mole that pushed me over the edge. If we go to a Mexican restaurant and they have mole, I’m definitely ordering it. It’s great sometimes, and others it’s a flame out. But at home, unless you’re going to make it from scratch, Dona Maria mole in a jar is usually your only option. But now that I’ve made Bayless’ mole, there’s no going back.
Chiles roasting over an open flame is one of those scents that’s a harbinger of good things to come. Like garlic and onions cooking on the stove, like banana bread baking in the oven. If there’s one smell I don’t mind filling the house in the summer, it’s roasting chiles. When you’ve swapped 9 months of sunshine for 9 months of rain, the scent of chiles roasting is even more evocative of desert heat and warm, sunny days. The last few years more and more farmers markets in California have been doing chile roasts in August and September, and finally, Whole Foods will be doing a Hatch chile roast in Seattle, Portland and Bend, OR in a couple of weeks (yaaaaay!!!!!).
Years ago at Hop Kiln Winery we had a crockpot posole rojo with chicken that was a revelation with Marty’s Big Red – a meritage that’s now just called “Big Red.” I later discovered posole is really meant to have pork, and should be made with dried chiles and dried hominy. So the whole thing was one big shortcut, but still tasted great.
Anyway, yesterday I found myself with the best of both worlds. The pork was already ready to go thanks to the braised carnitas I made on Thursday for Cinco de Mayo, so I broke out the dried chiles for a little toasting and soaking. If you’ve got a good market nearby (that’s not to say your regular old grocery store), it’s at least as cheap, if not cheaper, than the canned route and provides better flavor. The carrots I add on general principle – everyone needs more veg.
Quick(ish) Posole Rojo
4 oz. dried red chiles (I used guajillo and pasilla)
~ 4 c. boiling water to cover (this will depend on the bowl you’re soaking the chiles in)
1/2 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, divided – 2 for the chile sauce, 2 more for the posole, sliced
3 c. chicken broth
1 t. Mexican oregano
1.5 t. salt (or to taste)
2 c. shredded pork (leftover from braised carnitas)
1 29 oz. can white hominy
2 large carrots, peeled & chopped into half-inch disks
Garnish with a squeeze of lime, radish slices, cilantro, cheddar cheese, plain yogurt.
Stem and seed the chiles. Toast them over low heat in a dry pan until they become fragrant, turning frequently. Soak the chiles for 3o minutes in a large bowl with ~4 c. boiling water (enough to cover). When the chiles are softened, blend them with the soaking water, 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 white onion until smooth. You’ll probably need to do this in batches, depending on the blender. Strain the chile sauce through a mesh sieve to catch the chile skins.
In a large dutch oven, combine the chile sauce, chicken broth and oregano. Add the pork, hominy and carrots and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes (or until the carrots are softened). You want the sauce to reduce a bit. Add salt to taste.