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).
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.
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!!
- 1 1/4 Cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 habenero, or any fresh, hot green chili
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- 2 heaping teaspoons chopped cilantro leaves (more for garnish)
- 2 heaping teaspoons chopped chives
- In a hot frying pan, toast the pepitas, turning them constantly, until the hulls are well browned and crisp. Set aside.
- Toast the chile, turning it from time to time, until it is bllistered and black-brown in spots.
- Cover the tomatoes with boiling water and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain, skin and set aside to cool.
- Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the toasted seeds together with the salt, to a coarse powder.
- Transfer to a small serving bowl.
- Sitr the tomatoes into the ground pumpkin seeds, together with the cilantro, chives and whole chile.
- The mixture should have the consistency of mayonnaise--if it's too thick, add a little water.
- Serve at room temperature with veggies or tortilla chips.