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Chile Season Is Almost Here!

Chile Season Is Almost Here!
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No, I don’t mean it will be getting cold…although it will, in a few months.  I mean FOOTBALL season!  And that means gatherings and tailgates.  And gatherings and tailgates mean nibbles and dips, many of them spicy.  And spicy nibbles and dips go great with a cold beer or glass of wine to celebrate wins and commiserate losses.

SOOOO, in that spirit, I would like to share a basic guide to chilies, both fresh and dried, to help you decide how much heat to serve to your guests on game day.  I’m also sharing one of the dips we made in cooking school many years ago.  It’s a Mayan dip called Sikil P’ak, made with raw pumpkin seeds and habaneros.  You can, of course, use jalapenos if you can’t stand the heat (pun intended).

Dried Chilies:

Anchos: These are wrinkly, thick and dark brown.  Mild in flavor, they have a dried fruit meets tomato type taste.

Chilies de arbol: These little guys are small, thin skinned and red, with a sharp, strong flavor.

Guajillos:  If you want medium heat, these are your chilies.  They smooth, a brick red color and long.

Noras: Little dark red balls with a mild, fruity flavor.

Pasillas: Another mild chile with wrinkly, red brown color.  Sort of grassy-sweet in flavor.

There are more on the photo, but some of those are mentioned below, in the fresh chile list.  Remember, anything dried INTENSIFIES the flavor, so, if you’re using dried habaneros instead of fresh, keep a fire hose near the dip.

Fresh Chiles:

Habaneros: Round and thin skinned, these little buggers are super hot.  Some say they have a bit of sweetness, but who can tell that when your tongue is on fire?!

Jalapenos: These are our go-to chilies.  Green or red with thick skins and mild-medium flavor reminiscent of bell peppers with a kick.

Poblanos: Dark green, heart shaped and large, they’re mild flavor makes them perfect for stuffing cheese and all that good “football watching” stuff in.

Red Fingers: Long, shiny red and thin, red fingers have a medium heat and a slight tomato-y flavor.

Scotch bonnets:  Almost as mouth-burning as habaneros.  Little bulbs with wrinkled skins.

Serranos: Green and shiny with a medium heat that can sub for jalapenos when needed.

Thai: thin, small and green or red, these are wicked hot with a little tang.

There you go!  You’re all set for the season.  I hope you all invite me over to watch with you!  Go Penn State!!





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