Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chipotle Pepper Sauce

Do I know what I'm doing? Nope! But it still tastes good.

So I recently discovered chipotle peppers. Or more accurately, finally tried working with them after seeing them mentioned in recipes occasionally. Have you smelled sautéing chipotles? Oh man--makes me want to eat the air.

I just made a simple sauce by sautéing onions with chipotle and ancho peppers, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and a little white wine, and then immersion blending them coarsely. Combined with the pan-fried pork chop brought out a fullness in the flavor that wasn't there in the sauce alone. I'm not sure why, but the sauce smelled much fuller than it tasted alone--kind of like teas smell richer than they taste to me.

Well, in any case, I've got my eyes set on Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday to start exploring Latin cuisine. Maybe I'll get some insight there. The book seems like just what I'm looking for, as everyday cooking should give me understanding of the flavors and techniques that are foundational to or capture the essence of the cuisine (Mexican, specifically, in this case), which is what I look for rather than aiming at particular dishes. But we'll see. I'll be blogging.

Also pictured above and below are potato wedges roasted in duck fat. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with duck fat, but it didn't really jump out at me, at least in the quantity that I used. The potatoes were delicious, but not particularly decadent, as I was led to believe. So far, duck fat seems similar to chicken fat, to me at least, with an excellent roundness to its flavor. But maybe I just didn't use enough, as I went with my usual light coating, which was about one-quarter (a quarter!) of what some recipes online called for. I mean, if you're gonna dump that much fat into a dish, of course it's going to taste rich.

Recipe and more pics below.

Simple Chipotle Pepper Sauce

3 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (about 1/2 a small can), roughly chopped
1 dried ancho chili pepper, soaked in hot water until softened (15-30 minutes), stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup white wine
salt to taste
lime juice to taste

1 TBS peanut or other neutral flavored oil
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until it slides easily around the pan. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown.
  2. Add garlic, chipotle, ancho chilies, cumin, and cinnamon, and continue sautéing for a minute or two, until spices have darkened.
  3. Add white wine and bring to a simmer while stirring and scraping browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove from heat and either use a hand blender or pour ingredients into a food processor to make the sauce. Adjust salt and lime juice to taste. Serve as a sauce or dip with chicken or pork, or on roast potatoes, for example.

In the dishes below, I spooned the sauce over the pork chops, whereas above, I tried adding the sauce to the pan as the pork chop was finishing, and tossing the pork chop in the sauce in the pan. I didn't particularly prefer one approach over the other, though spooning it over the pork chop was a little more moist.

Also in these pics is braised kale with green cardamom and coriander--which turned out to pair very well with the chipotle pork.  This was not planned, but rather a happy accident.

On a side note, kale stems take a long time to become tender if you're trying to braise them. It goes faster if they're just completely submerged in boiling water (but then the leaves cook quickly). Best to keep stems and leaves separate and add leaves late, though I'm still inclined just to toss the stems. I only went with them this time because I bought a giant bag of pre-cut kale that included the stems. Hmm.


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