7.10.2010

101: fresh chiles

We saw this article in Cook's Illustrated and absolutely loved it.  We just had to share it with you!  Enjoy.


For a lot of people, it's hard to tell the difference between types of chiles.  Not only are they called by different names, depending on where you are located geographically, but the same chile can also vary in color from green to red, depending on when it were harvested.  There is one thing in common among all chiles - they should have unblemished skin that is firm to the touch.


TYPES OF CHILES:


Poblano: large & triangular, green to reddish-brown in color, one out of four on the heat scale. Looking for a substitute? Try an Anaheim or a bell pepper.


Anaheim: large, long & skinny, yellow-green to red in color, two out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Poblano.


Jalapeno: small, smooth & shiny, green or red in color, 2.5 out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Serrano.


Serrano: small & dark green in color, three out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Jalapeno.  


Thai Bird's Eye: narrow & petite, bright red in color, 3.5 out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a Serrano. 


Habanero: bulbous, bright orange to red in size, four out of four on the heat scale.   Looking for a substitute? Try a double dose of Thai Bird's Eye. 



How to remove the seeds and ribs (inner whitish pith):  
1) Cut chile in half lengthwise with a knife. 
2) Starting opposite the stem end, run the edge of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon along the inside of the chile, scraping out the seeds & ribs. 


HOW TO ROAST CHILES: 


By roasting chiles, you'll break down their cell walls, which releases more flavor & caramelizes their sugars, bringing out a richer flavor.  (Note: do not run skins under water - this actually washes away flavor.)


Stovetop: best for small chiles, like jalapenos, that can be quickly roasted.
1) Place wire cooling rack over gas burner & turn to high.
2) Arrange chiles on wire rack directly over flame and char on all sides, turning with tongs
3) Transfer chiles to bowl and cover with plastic wrap, steam for 20 minutes
4) Peel off skins, but not under water, and remove seeds


Oven method: for larger chiles, like poblanos or Anaheims, slice 1/4 inch off the top & bottom, pull out the core, slit down one side, and press chili flat into one long strip.
1) Arrange chiles (whole, small, or skin side up if strips) on foil-lined baking sheet
2) Broil chiles until charred.  If whole, small, flip over to char both sides


3) Transfer chiles to bowl and cover with plastic wrap, steam for 20 minutes
4) Peel off skins, but not under water, and remove seeds


Waste not, want not
elz + pab 

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