Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Chili pepper fiesta: cornmeal fried green chilies

As promised, my sister Angelica's eagerly awaited package of roasted chilies arrived this afternoon. Even before I opened the box I was overwhelmed by the intense aroma. She had packed the chilies with dry ice, which kept them fresh for the journey. My brother-in-law, Greg, says the chilies are from New Mexico and are called "Hatch Peppers." They seem to be close to Anaheim, smaller and paler than chipotle but larger than jalapenos. I believe they're roasted in Colorado (and the skins peel off beautifully), which is where my sister lives. She mailed me at least five pounds of the babies, so it'll be a challenge to find a use for them all. I may make a salsa to can. But in the meantime, prepare for THE VELEZ-TWITCHELL CHILI PEPPER FIESTA.

Tonight I tried a recipe Angelica and Greg made up. I took about ten peppers and sliced each lengthwise, discarding the stem and seeds. I've recently read that a chili pepper carries all its heat in its veins, so I tried to slice those off when I could as well. Then I rinsed the peppers and let them soak in water for a few minutes. I mixed about one cup of blue cornmeal with half a cup of breadcrumbs (toasted stale whole grain bread and then put in food processor).

I heated about 1/8 inch of corn oil in my cast iron pan, and kept replenishing the oil to that level as I cooked each batch. I dredged each chili on both sides in the cornmeal mixture. Since I'd sliced the chilies in half, they were flat. I could fit 2-3 chilies in the pan at a time. I fried each side for a minute or two until golden and crispy, then let soak on paper towels. I also salted the chilies while still warm.

I couldn't stop eating the fried chilies while I worked. They weren't very hot at all, but crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I fried some eggs and made some toast to go along with them. Lane loves having breakfast for dinner.

Tomorrow I'm going to try a recipe I found in my mother's old Diana Kennedy tome, The Cuisines of Mexico, cheese stuffed green chilies in rice. And Wednesday I'll probably attempt chile rellenos, chilies stuffed with a pork mixture and fried in an egg batter. I found some more recipes on this website, so maybe I'll try some of them as well. Brooklyn's own pepper fiesta is happening the first weekend in October at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, by the way.

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