Monday, August 20, 2012

It's all about the flavor. No, really!

I'm Ryan, a.k.a. Static Source, but you know me as Lovely Spouse (I didn't have any say in the nickname).  My wife asked me to consider adding an entry or two to the Cibatarian blog since I'm an avid foodie and cook.  My own blog (Static Source, in case you didn't catch it two sentences ago) is all about making stuff.  Specifically I make... well... stuff.  I make pretty much anything that inspires me, really, and fortunately I also make dinner, so that qualifies.  I'll be adding some of my food based inspirations both here and on my own blog from time to time.  Think of it like those fun cross-over events that were so popular on TV in the '80s where the cast of one show would appear on the set of another and everyone would act like it was perfectly normal while the live studio audience went crazy.  I suppose I need a title, then.  Since I didn't have any say in my nickname I claim full license to select my own title.  From this day forth I shall be known as "Contributing Editor" since I get to contribute... and edit... at least I get to edit what I contribute.
It's over 100 degrees outside, and that can only mean one thing: Hatch Chile Season!  While everyone else in Texas is looking for anything at all to help them cool off foodies in the South are turning up the heat.
I was born in New Mexico, and I grew up in Texas.  My mother was born in Arizona, and she grew up all around the American Southwest.  To put it mildly I grew up with spicy food.  My mother introduced me to the incredibly complex flavor of the green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico in a recipe her mother had taught her when she was young: green chile burritos.  I hadn't seen the chiles since I moved away to go to college in 1992 until a few years ago when I happened, much to my surprise, upon a basket of rather sad looking Hatch chiles at a local super market, and my mouth began watering immediately.  The smell of the peppers is unmistakable, and I took every pepper they had on the shelf.  I roasted them myself once I got home by putting them on my barbecue grill and rotating frequently until the skins were blistered and blackened all the way around.  Since then H. E. B. and the Central Market in Houston have begun annual Hatch Chile Festivals at which they fire roast the peppers by the bushel for you at the store and send them home with you piping hot.  Temperature-hot, that is.  Well also flavor-hot, of course.  Why did we have to use the same word for both in English?  It's so much easier in Spanish where "caliente" means temperature-hot and "picante" means flavor-hot.  Picante sauce therefore just means "hot sauce", and "hot" picante sauce is redundant.  Not that I speak Spanish fluently.  I don't even have any Latin or Spanish heritage.  I just like the food, and growing up in Texas I've learned more than a little Spanish.
The following recipe is the first with which I have ever come up on my own.  It's really simple, which is why I chose to lead with it.  It takes about forty minutes from prep to table, but about half that time is waiting while the potatoes boil.  It's perfect if you happen to be doing other things at the same time.
 - 5 pounds of potatoes cut into 3/4 inch cubes (skins-on is my preference)
 - one stick of butter
 - one cup plus one shot glass of cream (I didn't say this recipe was diet friendly)
 - five to ten minced, roasted Hatch green chiles with the stems and seeds removed (hot or mild,  I like hot)
 - salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in a large stock pot with a tablespoon of salt and oil.  When the potatoes squish easily between two spoons (about twenty minutes) drain the potatoes and return them still hot to the stock pot.  Add the butter, Hatch chiles, and cream and mash with a potato masher or ricer to the desired smoothness.
If you decide to try this recipe at full strength your first time out (10 hot chiles) have the shot glass of cream right next to your plate.  If it turns out that you've gotten in over your head with the heat of the chiles take the shot and swish it around in your mouth until the flames are extinguished.  The fat in the cream will help dissolve the capsaicin (the naturally occurring chemical that gives peppers their characteristic heat).  I accept no responsibility for the effects you may experience the following day (we've come to call it "afterburners" or "the ring of fire").

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