Every December one of my favorite bloggers, Katie of Thyme for Cooking The Blog hosts a gift exchange between other foodies. Katie lives in France and her followers are from all over the world. Each of us is given a name of another participant and we are to send to them an herb or food item that is typical of the place that we live, along with a recipe or suggestion as to what to do with it. We in return receive a food gift. It is always so much fun to see what shows up on my doorstep.
This year I received this abundantly beautiful Ristra arrangement of drying chile pods. It is not only an ongoing source of chilis to be picked, but it a beautiful addition to the kitchen decor. I am looking for just the perfect spot to hang it. It was sent to me by Dan who lives four miles from the Mexican border in El Paso Texas. He does not have a blog but is known in his comments as Tiki Pundit. Thank you Dan! I love it. If you would like to give a ristra to someone on your gift list go here for a good selection.
Dan sent me a recipe for New Mexico Red Chili which is a pork stew that uses lots of the chilis and is braised slowly to meld the flavors and render the pork succulently tender. He also sent me directions on how to dry the pods to be used in the recipe. The chili ristra’s pods were harvested in September and are not completely dried yet, so to use them in this recipe, the pods used had to be dried further in the oven. Although it took me awhile in preparation, once this stew went into the oven, I could tell that it was worth the effort. I used fewer pods than the recipe called for because I didn’t know how hot they were. The recipe calls for 1 cup ground chilis. I used 8 pods that I dried in the oven until they were crinkly dry and ended up with 1/3 cup of ground chilis. It was perfect for us, although David felt it could have been a little hotter. I served it with rice, but it would also be good in tortillas with sour cream and other Mexican condiments.
NEW MEXICO RED CHILE
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds boned pork shoulder (butt), trimmed and meat cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup ground dried red New Mexico chiles (I used 8 pods seeds removed which yielded 1/3 cup when ground)
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer onions and garlic to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, cumin, and pepper. Add pork and toss to coat. Return pot to medium-high heat, add remaining 1 tbsp. oil, and working in batches, lightly brown meat on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to a separate bowl as you go.
Return onions and garlic to pot. Grind dried chile pods in a food processor. Sprinkle onion mixture with ground chiles and cook, stirring, 2 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of pot. Whirl sauce in a blender until smooth. Return sauce to pot and add bay leaf and reserved pork.
Cover pot, put in oven, and cook 1 hour. Set lid slightly ajar and cook until pork is fork-tender, about 1 hour more. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Katie will be posting all of the Season Eatings blog posts sometime between Christmas and New Years. I am anxious to see what my recipient did with her Key Lime Juice and Southern Pecans. Season’s Eatings everyone!