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Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Hot & Green Chili with Corn Bread: Guilt-and-Gluten-Free





Lean and Mean.  No Meat, No Beans, No Gluten, No Guilt. 

Perhaps it's my culinary cultural background. (Eastern European Jewish?) Or the fact that I live in a climate that’s hot (two and a half months out of the year).  Perhaps it’s because I cook in a (con)fusion of styles and thoroughly enjoy a taste of Cajun, Indian, Mexican, Caribbean, Asian, and TexMex. Whatever the reason, chiles are a staple in my kitchen. 
Hanging on my pantry door, there’s a bouquet of dried chiles, notably for a little good luck and kitchen magic. On hand and in plentiful supply, I have all manners of roasted, powdered and fresh chiles: anaheim, ancho, chipotle, jalapeno, poblano, seranno, habanero.  
Chiles. I love the sound of their names, the look of them, their color and shape.  And then there’s the flavor.  Smoky, aromatic, earthy, fruity, pungent, piquant ... and hot.  That inimitable heat from the tip of the tongue all the way down actually releases endorphins, a fact which might explain the pleasure. . . 
Chili, chilli or chiles? 
The word chilli refers to a wide variety of fruit called chile peppers or hot peppers. Technically, chile peppers are berries of the genus Capsicum that fall into two categories: hot and sweet. All have their own flavors and levels of heat.  While the seeds pack a punch, the real heat in chillis is capsaicin,the oil found in the white flesh or veins to which the seeds are attached. Fresh chillis are customarily stemmed, seeded and deveined before cooking.  
Chilli heat is indexed according to a somewhat subjective measurement, known as the Scoville scale. The number of Scoville heat units are used to the amount of capsaicin present on a scale of zero (representing the mild bell pepper) to the 100,000 to 500,000 assigned to habaneros or scotch bonnets. The jalapeno falls in the middle range of 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. 
I’ll spare you the science of measurement used in high pressure liquid chromatography, and cut to the chase with a recipe that celebrates the chile pepper in all its glory, sweet and hot, in a dish that’s not for the faint of heart(burn). 
Guilt-Free and Gluten-Free 
White Hot & Green Chili with Corn Bread 
No meat, no beans, this one’s as lean and mean as a chili can get.  And for our friends challenged with gluten-sensitive enteropathy, I’m going gluten-free with an accompanying corn bread recipe of my own invention.  
Ingredients for White Hot ‘n’ Green Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 gloves garlic
1 medium onion chopped fine
2 leeks, cut in 1 inch slices
1.5 pounds tomatillos diced 
1 yellow pepper (sweet)
1 banana pepper
3 or 4 jalapeno peppers (roasted)
3 or 4 medium hot red guajillo peppers (roasted)
2 or 3 serrano peppers
1 or 2 habanero peppers
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
Sea salt to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro
(Variation for a meat option: 1 pound pork tenderloin)
Method:
Roast chiles: heat in a skillet, to char skins
Seed and devein chiles and chop in small pieces
In an 8-quart pan, heat olive oil, add garlic and brown
Add vegetables, cook until softened
Add chicken stock, sugar, cider and seasonings
Simmer one half hour
With 1/4 cup reserved chicken stock, add flour to make
thickening, add mixture to chili
Before serving, add 1 up chopped cilantro
Serve with dollop of sour cream, shaved cheddar cheese, green onions
Gluten-Free Corn Bread
(This one’s a first for me.  With all the gluten-free discussion, I thought I’d try to see just how challenging baking is with rice and soy flours.  No biggie (though the ingredients are not inexpensive.)  Whole Foods (the grocery chain)  is well set up for gluten-free diets, offers consultants and a decent web site with loads of recipes.  I’ve taken the basic recipe from the site, then improvised, as follows.  

Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cut brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Option: 2 tablespoons sweet pepper marmalade 
Method
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place butter in a 9-inch square baking pan or in a small cast iron skillet. Put the pan in the preheating oven until butter is melted. Remove from oven and tilt the pan back and forth to coat. Set aside.

Mix corn flour, corn meal, soy flour, brown rice flour, salt, brown sugar and baking soda together. Add eggs, milk, melted butter and apple sauce.   Combine with a few strokes, not over-beating. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
 (Option: for sweet pepper marmalade recipe, revisit SKC, Grilling Cheese. Any Questions?) 
Hmmm-mm.  Now that I know the way to gluten-free, I’ll have to try it more often. 
Still craving that classic Super Bowl Chili?   For my version of that manly-man,  take-no-prisoners, Texas-style dish of meat ‘n’ beans, red tomatoes and fire, please visit my Chili Afternoon, posted in a previous OS Kitchen Challenge,  December 26.  
And thanks for stopping by.

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