Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Homemade Chipotle Peppers

This year in the garden we had a ton - possibly quite literally - of jalapeños. More jalapeños than any two people could possibly eat.

At a recent family gathering, my brother suggested that I/we turn them into chipotles. I thought "What a fantastic idea!" Research resulted in finding a few things:
  1. It's supposed to work best with fresh jalapenos. Being that it's November, all I had was frozen. We decided to make due.
  2. You can smoke the whole pod, but most sites recommend slicing them in half and removing the stems. Removing the seeds is optional. We left them in.
  3. You can use a variety of types of wood, from oak to mesquite to apple. My brother chose hickory.
  4. You can either dehydrate them completely on the smoker or you can finish the process in the oven. We chose the latter because feeding the smoker with appropriate fuel gets expensive and time consuming (about 24 hours).
So I prepped the peppers, dropped them off with said brother, he smoked them and returned them last Friday, and I threw them in the oven to complete the dehydration (have I mentioned I love my convection oven? Yeeeeeeeeesss, my precious).

The result? About 100 chipotle peppers, ready for use.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lavender Chicken Chili - Crockpot Version

I few weeks ago I made this great recipe, Lavender Chicken Chili with White Beans, for the in-laws. I had planned to make it again this weekend but never got around to it.

So yesterday I modified it and made it in the crockpot. I think it actually turned out better this way.

Lavender Chicken Chili - Crockpot Version

1 lb great northern beans, rinsed and picked over
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb ground turkey
2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lavender
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp savory
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of chipotle powder
6 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups chicken stock & 3 cups water)
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
3 cups grated White Cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Place beans in a large bowl. Add enough cold water so they're covered by 3 inches. Let soak overnight.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and warm thru. Add in ground chicken and brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno, sauteeing 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add contents of skillet to crockpot. Drain the beans and add to the crockpot as well. Add in cumin and spices thru chipotle powder and stir to combine. Add the broth, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Heat skillet over medium heat, add in olive oil. Add diced chicken breast to skillet and sautee about 5 minutes. Add cooked chicken to crockpot, turn heat to high, cover and cook another 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Prior to serving, stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Ladle into bowls and serve with various garnishes (remaining cheese, cilantro, salsa, lime wedges, etc.).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pasta with Sausage, Porcini and Portobello Mushrooms

This is another recipe from The Wine Lover's Cookbook. It is also, easily, a recipe you could serve for company. The flavors are exquisite and rich. And, while it says it serve 4 as an entree, It could easily serve more.

I made a few changes to the recipe that, frankly, probably affected the overall richness of the recipe. Most notably, I did not discard all of the water from re-hydrating the porcini mushrooms but used it to enrich the sauce. I also only used one pan to cook the dinner (minus making the pasta), where the recipe suggested using two - I think that also impacted the overall flavor.

Pasta with Sausage, Porcini and Portobello Mushrooms

2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
12 oz sausage (italian or chorizo), cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
2 14-oz cans chopped tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper to taste (red pepper flakes optional if using a low-spice sausage)
1 lb dried penne or small dried pasta (we used rotini)

Soak porcini according to package direction. Drain. Reserve mushroom water.

Heat a large sautee pan over medium heat. Coat with spray oil and about 1 tbsp olive oil. Add sausage and sautee for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove and place on paper towels. Pat dry. Set aside.

Deglace pan with water. Add onions and garlic and sautee about 4 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add porcini, portobellos, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and continue sauteing for 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and about 1/2 cup of reserved mushroom water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer to reduce by half. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved sausage and heat thru. Season to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add pasta and cook according to package directions or until it is al dente. Drain.

You can either plate the pasta and spoon the sauce over it or combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl and serve.

Wine Pairing: The book recommends a syrah. DH and I had Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Sausage = Beer in our house.