Along with a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, we grew lots and lots of peppers. This month I’ll be running down a number of ways to preserve your pepper harvest, from roasting and drying to fermenting hot sauce and crafting sriacha.
Drying chile peppers is a great way to preserve them for use in mole, chile powder, pepper flakes and seasoning mixes. Depending on the type of chile, you typically let the peppers turn red before drying them. Cayenne, thai dragon, and ripe jalepeños all dry beautifully when red. Some chiles turn dark green/brown when ripe, like pasillas or poblanos. If your chiles are still green, try putting them in a paper grocery bag on the countertop for a few days to ripen them further, which adds a little more sugar to the flesh.
To dry large or thick-fleshed chiles, lay them on a rack in your dehydrator and dry them at 115 degrees until crisp dry. Store them in a dark cool place in a jar or ziplock bag. You can also dry your chiles in the oven on it’s lowest setting with the door cracked open. Spread them on a cookie sheet and dry the chiles overnight. If the chiles are still moist, you may need to store them in the freezer. To dry small, thin skinned chiles, I do like to thread them through a needle onto a string, then hang them in my warm kitchen to dry. They make lovely kitchen decorations. When I need a hot chile or two, I just break them off the string.
I recently had the pleasure of creating a fantastic mole from dried chiles in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen at General Mills Headquarters here in Minneapolis. A small group of bloggers were invited to be part of National Cereal Week. The innovative team at Hello, Cereal Lovers got the idea to ask nationally known chefs and bloggers for their innovative ideas for cooking with cereal. And we’re not just talking Chex Mix or sweets. There are things like boozy cocktails, duck confit and chilaquiles! Get the recipes here. I created a dried chile cherry mole sauce for roasted poblano peppers, stuffed with chicken and goat cheese, topped with toasted smoked paprika Corn Chex. I have to say, it was really good. I’m not much of a cereal lover, but using cereal as a crunchy textural component really made this dish. Yum!
By Tammy Kimbler
4 dried poblano chiles or 6 dried pasillo chiles
1/2 c dried sweet cherries
1 c chicken stock
1 small tomato
1 tbs canola or olive oil
4 fresh poblano chiles, medium sized
4 boneless chicken thighs
2 slices bacon
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
canola or olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup Corn Chex cereal or crushed corn tortilla chips
1/2 c almonds, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tbs canola oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour over the dried poblanos and cherries. Let steep for 15 minutes. Finely dice half an onion and sauté in a little oil until they just turn brown. Chop one small tomato. When the chiles and cherries are soft, remove the chile stems and seeds. Add the chiles, cherries, stock, onion and tomato to a blender and blend until very smooth. Season to taste with salt. In a sauce pan, heat a tablespoon of oil till almost smoking, then add the mole sauce (careful, it sputters). Sauté briefly in the oil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Roast the fresh poblanos over a gas flame or under a broiler until the skin is charred all over. Place in a bowl and cover with a towel to steam. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Gently slit open one side of each chile and remove the seeds, being careful to keep the stem and chile intact for stuffing. Set aside.
Finely dice the bacon and onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the chicken into small cubes. Sauté the bacon and onion until soft. Add the chicken and cook through. Add the garlic at the end, along with the cumin. Salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat. Reserve a 1/4 cup of goat cheese for the topping, blending in the remaining cheese until creamy.
In a sauté pan, heat the canola oil until hot. Add the cereal or tortilla chips and almonds and sauté until fragrant. Turn down the heat to low and add the smoked paprika and salt, tossing quickly to combine. The paprika may smoke a bit. Remove from heat and empty into a heat proof bowl.
To assemble the dish, pour the mole sauce into a casserole dish big enough to hold the four poblanos. Carefully stuff each poblano with 1/4 of the chicken filling, then lay them on top of the mole. Top each chile with the cereal topping, then with a sprinkling of goat cheese. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until the mole is bubbly and the goat cheese is light brown on top.
To serve, lift out the stuffed pepper onto a plate, spoon mole around the pepper. Sprinkle with any extra cereal mix and a bit of cilantro.