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Friday, August 30, 2013

Chili from homegrown peppers

Last year I made some chili using ancho peppers that I grew in the garden as well as other peppers. But I did not make chili powder from those peppers.

I had set aside some of that batch of chili and frozen it, then forgotten about it.  A few weeks ago I dug it out of the back of the freezer and reheated it.  It struck me that this was really good chili.  The broth had a richness and depth to it that can't be found in chili made with grocery store powder.

The other thing that got me thinking about chili were the ancho and pasilla peppers in the garden, now a mahogany chocolate color.  These are the pasilla peppers, a variety called Holy Moley, nearly a foot long.  I grew them last year but they weren't even close to this quality and size.

The ancho peppers are just as nice this year.  There's some confusion about the difference between an ancho and a poblano pepper.  They are the same pepper.   Green it is a poblano and ripe it is an ancho.  Some people believe that the ancho is the dried pepper.  I think that is because you hardly ever see the green poblano dried, it is used for chile rellenos.  I don't think that drying a green poblano will make it an ancho because it is still a green pepper.  Anyway these are the anchos with some red bullhorn peppers in the background.

Well, back to that chili that I dug out of the freezer.  I couldn't remember just how it was made, probably because I drink beer when making chili, and a long preparation can involve a number of beers.  It just seems like the right thing to do.  What prodded my memory was something else in the freezer from last year, a bag of dried ancho peppers and a bag of dried New Mexico chilies,which are Anaheim chilies, bought at the grocery store.

Here's how I think I made the chili as the veil of fog slowly dissipates.  I dried the ancho peppers in the dehydrator, but not brittle dry.  The store bought Anaheims were already dried to a leathery consistency.  If you've bought some of these you know what they are like.  I found some recipes for making chili powder on the Net.  Cumin powder and garlic usually go into the mix.  The recipes I found called for toasting the ingredients on a cookie sheet in the oven or on a cast iron skillet then grinding to powder. 

I wanted to forgo the toasting and grinding steps because I believed that can drive many of the flavors out of the peppers.  Instead of making powder I froze the chilies then finely chopped them with a chef's knife.  The leathery peppers chop easily while frozen, in fact the pieces can fly everywhere if not contained.  The  chopped chili flakes, along with cumin powder and garlic substituted for chili powder.

This morning I harvested the ripe chilies and began to dry them.  I should have grown some Anaheim plants also but you know what they say about hindsight.  Since today is very hot and sunny I put the peppers on the drying screen to start the drying process.  I'll dry them in the sun today and possibly tomorrow then finish drying them in the Nesco dehydrator.   

By mid-afternoon the chilies were already wrinkling up on one side.

They were turned over for the remainder of the day.  I'll post an update on the chili experiment once the first batch of chili is prepared.  Cheers.

  

2 comments:

Mark Willis said...

This is going to be useful for me! I have some Poblano, and some Garnet sweet peppers, which I intend to make into chilli powder, so I'll need some advice. Cheers!

Dave said...

I love homegrown peppers for chili and other SW type dishes. Hole Mole is a good producer for me, as is Ancho. I do dry some for powder, and then leave some whole. I also like to grill them and freeze for later use.

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