Salsa de Chili Pequin


Salsa de Chili Pequin | Culinary Compost

This is an authentic salsa that originated in the Sonoran desert of Northern Mexico. It is popular in Arizona and New Mexico due to the availability of the hot dried chili pequin pepper. The pepper is a close relative of the very small chiltepin pepper — essentially from the same cultivar; Capsicum Annuum var. Glabriusculum. If you have dried chiltepin peppers on hand, feel free to use those instead — they tend to be more spicy.

My recipe is extremely hot – adjust the heat to your preference.  You may use a propane torch or your oven broiler to blacken the cherry tomatoes. Don’t skip this step, as it’s critical to achieving the smoky, charred flavor that makes this dish so special.

Let stand for an hour in the fridge before serving. En Fuego!

 

Ingredients:

30 cherry tomatoes, washed and drained in cold water.
3/4 cup loose trimmed cilantro leaves
3 small handfuls dried chili pequin peppers (about four tbs.)
4 cloves garlic with husks on
1 tbs. Bragg’s Organic apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. dried ground Mexican oregano
1 tsp. dried ground coriander seed
up to 3 tbs. cold water (use more if needed)

 

Directions:

Wash thirty small, fresh cherry tomatoes and set aside. Wash and trim the fresh cilantro leaves.

Heat a small, heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the dried pequin peppers. Toast lightly, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from heat. Toast the garlic in the husks using the same manner. The garlic will take longer to toast. Remove when slightly charred, and then peel.

In a heavy eight-inch cast-iron skillet, blacken the cherry tomatoes with a propane torch. Use extreme caution – when possible use this technique outdoors to prevent a fire hazard. Stir occasionally to ensure they are evenly blackened. Remove from the skillet and place in a blender with the cilantro, toasted pequin chili, the garlic, vinegar, salt and ground black pepper. Add the ground coriander and Mexican oregano.

Pulse until smooth. Add a bit of cold water if you need to. Remove and let stand in your refrigerator for one hour before serving.

 

Makes just over one cup.
Heat level: 8

 

Toasted Chili Pequin and Garlic | Culinary Compost

Toasted chili pequin and garlic in a cast-iron skillet.

Blackening Cherry Tomatoes | Culinary Compost

Blackening cherry tomatoes in a cast-iron skillet, using a propane torch.

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Mike’s Sausage con Queso


Mike's Sausage con Queso recipe | Culinary Compost

This recipe is one of my hands-down favorites. The Chorizo sausage is rich and savory, adding just the right amount of meaty zip to round out the flavor. If you can’t find bulk ground chorizo, use the casing version by removing the casing and then browning it in a pan. Either method works well.

And my secret ingredient? Chimayo chili powder, available in bulk from many New Mexican online retailers.

Ingredients:

8 oz. spicy bulk chorizo sausage
8 oz. block Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
8 oz. block Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 tsp. pure mild chimayo chili powder
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 poblano pepper*, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (if you need more heat)
6 dried chiltepin peppers, crushed in a mortar (if you need even MORE heat)
1 roma tomato, cored and diced
chopped cilantro leaves or scallion for garnish

Tortilla chips for dipping

Preparation:

Prepare the poblano pepper. In a 2.5 quart cast-iron pot or heavy sauce pan, brown the chorizo sausage until no longer pink. Remove and reserve on paper towel to absorb the fat. Drain and discard the fat drippings from the pot and add the cheese. Heat on medium-low, stirring constantly until melted. Ensure that the cheese does not scorch. Add the meat back in. Add the peppers, garlic and chimayo powder and stir well until blended. Finally, add the tomato, remove from heat and serve in a dipping bowl with scallion or cilantro as a garnish.

*Note: To roast the poblano, wash the pepper and broil in your oven until the skin blackens and starts to blister off, about seven minutes per side. Remove and place in a sealed paper bag for ten minutes. Then rinse under cold water and work the tough outer skin off. You can also *carefully* use a portable propane torch with great results.

This recipe can also be prepared in your microwave oven, but there is no substitute for slow and low on the stovetop. If you can’t find chorizo sausage, Jimmy Dean spicy breakfast sausage will work well.

Serves 4-6.

Dried Chiltepin Peppers | Culinary Compost

Dried chiltepin peppers – don’t be fooled by their tiny size. They pack intense heat, measuring 80,000 Scoville heat units.