Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ancho Chile

Here in the UK chile (or chili, or chilli) peppers come in two varieties. Red & Green. If you're really lucky, maybe Habanero or Birds Eye too. But there are more than 100 different varieties of chile out there, and they don't all blow your head off. Some are mild or sweet. Some taste of chocolate or cherries.

So today I'm blathering on about Ancho chiles (Ancho meaning 'wide' in Spanish, apparently).

Ancho is the dried version of the Poblano chile (which I'll save for another time) it is around 7cm wide at the top & 10cm long with wrinkled skin a dark reddish-brown colour. It's flavour is mild (pretty low down on the Scoville Scale) & a little acid (think tart cherries & earth), and probably my favourite of all chiles.
So what can you do with it? I'm a fan of removing the stem & seeds, shredding it & frying it up with a chopped onion & a couple of cloves of garlic, then adding a cup of long grain rice & 2 cups of vegetable stock, simmering 10-15 minutes & stirring in some chopped green beans & sweetcorn at the end of the cooking time. You can deseed it & toast it in a dry frying pan, leave it to cool & crumble over lentil soup. Or deseed & soak it in hot water for 10 minutes, then discard the soaking water & blitz in a food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic to make a chile paste that could be the start of a pretty good chilli con carne, or enchilada sauce. Or you could add a little honey & a slug of olive oil, toss some sweet potato wedges in it & roast for 35-45 minutes in a hot oven.

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