Fifteen years ago, Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio reviewed a series of books and noted that sales were good for books which had titles with words as, "handbook", "manual" and "guide". Who knew that best-selling author, philosopher and scholar, Moises Maimonides, was over 800 years ahead of his time when he released his blockbuster, "Guide for the Perplexed".
I'm settling into my new home at Villa Victoria Blog and I've been mulling over ways to categorize my posts -- food, history, genealogy, etc. Chilies are a topic that can be explored infinitely but can be daunting. I want to make it easier for people to try many different chilies in all their forms and understand their use. Here then, shamelessly ripping off Maimonides, is the first entry under my new category: CHILIES: A Guide for the Perplexed.
How many times have you gone to your local store and seen a bag of Chiles de Arbol and reached for it and decided against it because all you needed was two little chilies and you knew you would never use the rest of them?In her seminal work, "Capsicum y Cultura, La Historia del Chilli", Janet Long-Solís, Research Associate at the Institute of Historical Studies, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, describes Chile de Arbol, C. annuum, as an elongated and thin fruit with a pointed apex. It is native to Jalisco, Nayarit, Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. When mature the Chile de Arbol turns bright red and grows in bush (tree/arbol) form. It is very hot. This chilito can be drizzled over Sopa de Albóndigas, or scrambled eggs with cotija cheese, grilled meats. Once you have it, it will beguile you.
Chile de Arbol / Chili Oil
1 oz. Chiles de arbol, tops removed
.5 oz. Garlic, smashed (3-4 cloves)
1.5 cups Corn Oil
1.5 tsp. Coarse salt
Pre-heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Pour in the oil and when the surface of oil starts to quiver, add the smashed garlic an brown on both sides. Be careful not to burn it. Take it out immediately and set aside. Let the oil come back to temperature and add the chilies all at once and stir to distribute evenly. Carefully turn them over as they brown. They will be come reddish-brown and will become very fragrant. This happens very quickly so you must be ready to carefully take them out, set them aside and turn the heat off and move it to a cooler burner.
When the oil has slightly cooled, put the garlic, the salt, the chilies which you have crushed with a gloved hand, and just enough oil to get the chilies grinding. Blend on HIGH for a long time. Gradually add the rest of the oil and blend for another long time. Taste a tiny bit for salt. This salsa is fiercly hot and you need just a little.
Pour into a glass jar with a lid. This salsa keeps for months.