Monday, June 29, 2015

Yucatán Pescado Tamales









     Banana Leaf Tamales Stuffed With Yuca, Red Sweet Potato And Fish!
     Many people automatically assume that the food of ancient societies in the Americas was primitive and very basic.  In reality, the opposite is true.  By any standards, many Pre-Columbian societies were truly gourmet.  Old traditional recipes of Mesoamerican societies often combined a complex list of ingredients to create flavors that were incomprehensible by old European standards.  
     Two good ancient recipe examples that are truly gourmet are the Mayan Chocolate Beverage and the complex Mole Pastes that were made by Aztec and Puebla societies.   The list of ingredients in these recipes are extensive and the complex flavors were well thought out.  

     Chile pepper knowledge is essential for cooking Pre-Columbian style food.  Simply listing chile peppers as being spicy hot or mild is not good enough.  Knowing the complex flavors of lesser known chile peppers can only be learned by experience.  
     Cascabel Chiles are native to the Yucatan region and they are an important part of Mayan cuisine.  Cascabel Chiles are also called Sleigh Bell Chiles or Rattlers.  These chiles have a nutty smokey rich chile pepper flavor and they are medium spicy hot.

     Tamales in the Oaxaca and Yucatan regions are often made with banana leaves, instead of corn husks.  Cooking food in banana leaves is one of mankind's first cooking techniques.  
     Nixtamal Corn Flour (Masa Harina) is what most people use to make tamales.  In tropical regions like the Yucatan Peninsula, root vegetables like yuca and sweet potato are often used to make tamales instead of maize.  A combination of Masa Harina and root vegetables is sometimes used as a tamale stuffing too.    

     Root vegetables were and still are main staple in the tropical Yucatan region.  There are many yams that are native to Central America and Mexico, but they are rarely sold in markets outside of those regions.  The white, yellow, orange, purple or red color "yams" that are sold in grocery stores are actually sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes and yams are two completely different plants.  Red Sweet Potato is one of the ingredients in today's recipe.  
     Yuca (cassava) is combined with Red Sweet Potato to make the filling for today's banana leaf tamale.  Yuca is native to South America and it is cultivated extensively in Central America.
     Achiote is also called Anatto.  Anatto gives the tamale stuffing its orange color.  Anatto is an important spice in Central American cuisine.
     Palm Tree Oil was used extensively in Pre-Columbian Central American cuisine.  Many palm tree species produce small fruit or nuts that yield oil.  Coconut Oil is basically  the same thing.  Coconut Oil is used in today's recipe.  
     If you want to step back in time to taste the flavors of Pre-Columbian Mayan cuisine, then today's Yucatan Fish Tamale recipe is good to try!

     *This entire recipe yields 3 medium size tamales.

     Chile Cascabel Preparation:
     Carefully pop the stem off of 3 dried cascabel chiles.
     Shake the seeds out of the pods.  Discard the seeds.
     Soak the cascabel chiles in cold water, till they are soft.
     *The yuca and red yam tamale filling can be made while the chiles soak.  

     Yuca and Red Yam Tamale Stuffing:
     About 2 1/2 cups of this stuffing will yield 3 or 4 medium size tamales.  
     This stuffing is thickened with Masa Harina.
     Step 1:  Peel and trim 1 medium size piece of yuca root.  (About 10 ounces)
     Place the yuca root in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 medium size whole Red Sweet Potato.  (About 8 ounces)
     Cover the root vegetables with 1" extra water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer till the yuca and red sweet potato are tender.  Add water if necessary.
     *The sweet potato will become tender before the yuca, so remove the red sweet potato when it is cooked soft and set it aside to cool.
     Remove the yuca from the pot and allow it to cool.
     Step 3:  Peel the skin off of the sweet potato.
     Split open the yuca root.
     Remove and discard the hard stem core.
     Coarsely chop the yuca and yam.
     Step 4:  Place the chopped yuca and yam in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil.
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.  (Substitute ground chile puya instead for a more authentic spicy flavor.)
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 2 minced green onions.
     Step 6:  Place a lid on the pot.
     Slowly simmer till the root vegetables are vert soft, so they can be easily mashed.  (About 10 minutes.)
     Step 7:  Use a potato masher to mash the mixture till it is smooth.
     Step 8:  Add a little bit of masa harina at a time while stirring, till the root vegetable mixture becomes a thick paste.  (About 3 or 4 tablespoons.)
     Step 9:  Take the pot off of the heat.  
     Set it aside to cool. 

     Yucatán Pescado Tamales:
     This recipe yields 3 medium size tamales and 1 banana leaf package of tortillas.
     Step 1:  Lightly grill 1 or 2 whole banana leaves over an open flame or on a cast iron griddle, till they turn a slightly darker shade of green and they become flexible.  (Frozen banana leaves can be used too.)
     Cut 4 square shape banana leaf wrappers that measure 10"x10". 
     Step 2:  Place equal amounts of the root vegetable stuffing on the center of 3 of the banana leaf wrappers.  (About 3/4 cup apiece.)
     Step 3:  Place a 2 to 3 ounce piece of fish on each mound of stuffing.  (Tilapia, Catfish or any sustainable white fish can be used.)
     Press the fish into the root vegetable vegetable paste. 
     Step 4:  Place 1 of the reserved soaked cascabel peppers on top of each piece of fish.
     Step 5:  Tear 8 long thin strips of banana leaf.
     Tie pairs of the banana strips together to form 4 long strings.
     Step 6:  Fold the banana leaf over the stuffing to form a sealed shaped square banana leaf package.  
     Tie each package shut with a banana leaf string.
     Step 7:  Place 6 to 8 small 5" corn tortillas on the 4th banana leaf wrapper and seal that package with the 4th banana string.  
     Set the tortilla banana leaf package aside.
     Step 8:  Place a steamer rack in a large pot.
     Add enough water, so the water level is just below the steaming rack.
     Place the 3 tamales on the steaming rack.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Step 9:  Steam the tamales over medium/medium hot heat for 16 minutes.  Add water if necessary.
     Step 10:  Place the banana leaf tortilla package in the steaming pot.
     Steam for another 4 minutes.
     
     Presentation:
     Set the 3 Yucatán tamales de pescado, yuca y ñame on a plate, so they overlap each other.
     Set the banana leaf package of tortillas on the back half of the plate.
     Serve with a ramekin of your favorite Mexican style hot sauce or Yucatan Habanero Hot Sauce.

     When the banana leaf tamale wrappers are opened, the aroma is mouthwatering!  
     Be sure to say to say "Hach ki’ in wo’och!" to the guests.  This means "My food is very tasty!" in Mayan language!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tostadas with Grilled Ham and Roasted Corn Salsa Verde





     A Different Tostada!
     Ham on a tostada is like saying ham on toast.  Tortillas are the bread of Mexico.  A flat crisp grilled toasted tortilla is a tostada.  Up till the early 1970's, all tostadas were made with corn tortillas.  Nowadays, it seems like every restaurant has copied the ways of the fast food chains that sell wheat flour tortilla tostadas.
     A fast food style flour tortilla tostada with no brown toasted highlights is about as exciting as eating a saltine cracker.  A toasted corn tortilla has a much heartier flavor and it is a healthier choice.
     Just like tacos, tostadas have a wide range of toppings.  I have never seen a ham tostada offered on any restaurant menus, so I thought that creating one could be interesting.
     Generally speaking, most folks that live north of the border do not associate ham with Mexican cuisine.  The fact is that ham is popular in Mexico, but it is usually reserved for home style meals.  The Spanish ham heritage does exist in Mexico.
     Tomatoes or tomato salsa was my second choice for this recipe.  The flavor of tomatillo and roasted poblano in salsa verde tastes nice with ham.  Roasted corn adds a classic southwestern flavor.  This tostada recipe turned out to be rather nice tasting!

     Refritos:
     Canned refried beans are okay for this recipe, but home made refried beans are always better.  About 1 cup is needed for 2 small tostadas.  Follow the link to the refried beans recipe in this website if you prefer to make your own.
     • Refried Pinto Beans ~ Refritos!
   
     Salsa Verde:
     About 3/4 cup is needed for 2 small tostadas.  Once again, canned salsa verde is just okay.  Home made salsa verde is much better.  Follow the link to the recipe in this website. 
     • Salsa Verde
 
     Roasted Maiz en Salsa Verde:  
     This recipe yields enough for 2 small tostadas.
     A little more roasted chile poblano is added to the salsa verde to create a flavor that tastes better with ham.  
     Step 1:  Cut 3" section of shucked fresh corn on the cob.
     Lightly brush the corn ear with vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Roast the corn on a char grill or in a cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     Roll and turn the corn, so it roasts evenly.
     *The object is to lightly brown the tips of the corn kernels.  Try not to roast the corn till the kernels turn black colored, or they will be bitter tasting!  Lightly roasted corn tastes sweet.
     Step 3:  When the corn cob kernels are caramelized on the tips, set the corn cob section aside to cool.
     Cut the kernels off of the cob.
     Set the corn kernels aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3/4 cup of salsa verde in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped roasted chile poblano.
     Add the roasted corn kernels.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Step 5:  Simmer the sauce, till it reduces to a medium thick consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
 
     Tostadas with Grilled Ham and Roasted Corn Salsa Verde:
     This recipe yields 2 small tostadas.  (5" to 6" diameter tortillas)
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Grill 2 corn tortillas (5" to 6" wide tortillas), till the tortillas are lightly toasted and crisp.
     Set the toasted tortillas on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Lightly season the tostadas with sea salt.
     *Leave the griddle on the heat, so the ham can be grilled!
     Step 2:  Grill a few small slices of roasted cured ham.  Add a little bit of vegetable oil if necessary.  (About 3 ounces of ham per 6" tostada is plenty.)
     Grill till the ham is hot and a few brown highlights appear.
     Keep the grilled ham pieces warm on a stove top.
     Step 3:  Place the toasted tortillas on a cutting board.
     Spread a thin layer of warm refried beans on the crisp tortillas.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated queso fresco on each tostada.
     Spoon the roasted corn salsa verde over the cheese and beans.
     Place the grilled ham slices on the top of the sauced tostadas.
     Step 4:  Place a dollop of sour cream on each tostada.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion on the sour cream.
     Place the tostadas on a plate.
     Garnish with cilantro leaves.
 
     There are no hot spicy chile peppers in this recipe.  These tostadas will appeal to those who like milder flavors!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elote!








     Elote!
     Corn is the Native American staff of life.  Roasting corn is nothing new.  Natives have been roasting whole corn on the cob for thousands of years.  
     Elote is Mexican style roasted corn.  Elote is a popular antojitos offering in Mexico and the American Southwest.  Antojitos basically translates to "street vendor food."  Gourmet street vendor food has been a hot item at trendy restaurants in recent years.  Few people realize that the origin of many modern Mexican street vendor food items come from Aztec cuisine.  The Aztecs served up plenty of street food that could be eaten with bare hands while on the go.  Tacos are a prime example.

     Only one ingredient is needed for making elote and that is a a fresh ear of corn.  To make elote, the corn is roasted over an open flamed or in an oven.  When elote is roasted in a dry arid place, like here in the Mojave Desert, the green husk turns into a pale tan color.  In places where there is some humidity, the green color will be retained.
     After roasting, the corn husk is peeled back and the corn silk is brushed off.   A thick wood skewer is inserted in the cob.  Then the ear of corn is held over an open flame, till the tips of the kernels are roasted brown.  This adds a nice finishing touch! 
     The list of toppings for elote is what gets complicated.  Sometimes the street vendor dresses the elote up and sometimes the customer places the toppings on the elote on their own.  
     Traditional elote toppings include butter, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and ground dried chile pepper.  The choice of chile pepper is a matter of personal taste and most elote fans prefer spicy chile powder.  Chile Pequin is one of the spiciest chile peppers that there is and it has a unique flavor.  Chile Pequin tastes nice on elote.

     Elote:
     This recipe yields 1 elote.
     Step 1:  Place 1 whole ear of corn in a 300ºF oven.
     Slowly roast the corn till the husk dries out and the ear of corn is piping hot.
     Step 2:  Hold the hot ear of corn with a dry towel.
     Spear the stalk end of the corn with a thick bamboo skewer.
     Peel the husk and corn silk back over the skewer.
     Brush off the corn silk.
     Step 3:  Hold the corn over an open flame.  Try to lightly toast the tips of all the kernels.
     Step 4:  While the corn ear is still hot, brush the corn with melted unsalted butter.
     Use a cake spatula to spread a very thin coating of mayonnaise on the ear of corn.
     Step 5:  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle a little bit of garlic powder on the corn. 
     Sprinkle a few pinches of ground chile pequin, Spanish Paprika or your favorite ground chile pepper over the corn.
     Serve immediately!  

     Elote is one of life's simple pleasures!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Poached Eggs and Hickory Smoked Bacon on Pepper Jack California Sourdough Cheese Toast with Sauce Soubise






     A Classic French Breakfast Sauce!  
     I have been wanting to post a Soubise Sauce recipe for quite some time.  Soubise is not a sauce that can be used on just any entrée that comes along.  Soubise is a semi sweet, onion flavored béchamel sauce that is enriched with cream and butter.  Soubise is classically used as a breakfast entrée sauce. 
     Toasted Cheese Bread (Cheese Toast) actually is a traditional American breakfast entrée.  Sliced bread topped with sliced cheese that is toasted in an oven is as simple as it gets.  
     Pepper Jack Sourdough Cheese Bread has a slightly tangy and mildly spicy flavor that offsets the semi sweet character of Sauce Soubise.  The effect is similar to the taste of Jalapeño Hard Candy on the palate and it is nice.  The hickory smoked bacon adds rustic savory appeal.  The flavors work well together.

     Classic Sauce Béchamel:  
     This recipe yields about 2 cups of sauce.
     Béchamel is a French Mother Sauce.  Hundreds of secondary sauce can be made with Béchamel.  Béchamel can be refrigerated for 7 days and it should be reheated to order.
     An onion piquet can be used to flavor the sauce, but the sauce will still need to be strained.  It is easier to just place the piquet components in the sauce instead.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. 
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk to make a roux.  (The roux should look shiny and not caky.)
     Stir the roux constantly till a very light hazelnut aroma develops and the roux is cooked to a pale white color. 
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 cups of milk while stirring. 
     Whisk the sauce as it starts to simmer and thicken.  The sauce should be a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Add 1/2 of a bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce, till the béchamel is a medium thin sauce consistency that evenly coats a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the béchamel through a fine mesh strainer into container.
     Set the bechamel aside or chill the sauce for later use. 

     Sauce Soubise:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.  (Enough for 2 to 3 poached egg entrées.)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Gently sauté and sweat the onions, till they are very tender but not brown at all.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  
     Add 3/4 cup of the béchamel sauce.
     Add 1/3 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped chilled unsalted butter while constantly whisking.
     Whisk till the butter combines.  (monter au beurre)
     Step 4:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot or ceramic container.
     Press as much of the soft onions through the strainer into the sauce as possible.  (Be sure to scrape the bottom of the strainer into the sauce.)
     Discard the coarse onion pulp that remains in the strainer.
     Step 5:  Keep the soubise sauce warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  (Stir occasionally.  Add milk if the sauce is too thick.)  

     Poached Eggs and Hickory Smoked Bacon on Pepper Jack California Sourdough Cheese Toast with Sauce Soubise:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Some of these steps can be performed at the same time.
     Step 1:  Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Cut 2 strips of hickory bacon in half.
     Grill the bacon on both sides till it is crispy golden brown..
     Set the crisp bacon strips on a wire screen roasting rack on a drip pan and keep the bacon warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.  
     Lightly brush 1 large slice of California Sourdough Bread with melted unsalted butter.  (The bread has to be wide enough for 2 poached eggs.)
     Grill both sides of the bread, till it is lightly toasted.
     Step 3:  Place the grilled sourdough slices on a baking pan.
     Place a few thin slices of Pepper Jack Cheese on the bread.
     Bake  in a 350ºF oven, till the cheese softens softens and starts to melt.  (Do not brown the cheese!)
     Keep the cheese toast warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Poach 2 large eggs, in a sauce pot of gently boiling salted water over medium/medium high heat.  
     *Never add vinegar to egg poaching water!  Vinegar makes the eggs rubbery and it negatively affects the flavor.  
     Poach till the egg whites are fully cooked and the yolks are soft.
     Step 5:  Place the Pepper Jack California Sourdough Cheese Toast on a plate.
     Place the strips of hickory smoked bacon on the cheese bread.
     Place the 2 poached eggs on the bacon and cheese bread.
     Step 6:  Spoon a generous portion of Sauce Soubise over the eggs and cheese bread.
     Garnish the place with chilled fruit of your choice.  (Large diced pineapple is the fruit in the photos.)
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     This is a very rich tasting western ski lodge style breakfast entrée!  

Asparagus, Artichoke and Hearts of Palm Tossed Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing









     A Tasty Southwestern Style Salad Dressing!
     Summer is here and healthy salads are a refreshing treat.  Asparagus, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm are a nice combination of chilled vegetables for salad.  Cilantro Avocado Salad Dressing really adds a great summertime flavor!
     Canned artichoke hearts and canned hearts of palm are a nice convenience.  Some brands are better than others.  Artichoke hearts packed in glass jars seem to be the best.  Canned hearts of palm at Asian food markets can be higher quality than regular grocery store brands.
  
     Cilantro Avocado Salad Dressing: 
     This recipe yields about 1 cup or enough for 2 to 3 petite salads.  
     Step 1:  Place the pulp of a 1/2 of an avocado in a small mixing bowl.  (About 1/3 cup.)
     Thoroughly mash the avocado with a fork, till it is very smooth with no lumps.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro leaves.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 3:  Thoroughly whisk the ingredients together till the mixture is smooth.  (Or use an electric blending wand.)
     Step 4:  Add just enough water to dilute the salad dressing to a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.  (A few tablespoons is plenty.)
     Chill the Cilantro Avocado Salad Dressing aside for 10 minutes, so the flavors to meld.
  
     Asparagus Spears: 
     This recipe yields enough for 1 salad.
     Pencil asparagus do not need to be peeled.  Peeled large spears are better for today's salad. 
     Step 1:  Peel 6 large asparagus.
     Cut the asparagus into 5" spears.
     Step 2:  Boil a sauce pot of salted water over high heat.
     Add the asparagus spears.
     Blanch the asparagus for about one minute, so they are al dente.
     Remove the spears from the pot and cool them in a container of ice water.
     Set the asparagus spears aside.
  
     Asparagus, Artichoke and Hearts of Palm Tossed Salad with Cilantro Avocado Dressing: 
     This recipe yields 1 petite salad!
     Canned artichoke hearts and canned hearts of palm are fine for this recipe.  Some brands are better than others!
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of mixed baby lettuce greens in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 slice of bermuda onion that is 1/4" thick.  (Break the slice into rings.)
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced sweet orange bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced hearts of palm.
     Add 2 artichoke hearts that are cut into quarter wedges.
     Add a few small sprigs of dill weed.
     Add a few small sprigs of cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add just enough of the cilantro avocado dressing to coat the ingredients with flavor.  (Save a few spoonfuls of the dressing for later in the recipe.)
     Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Mound the tossed salad on the center of a plate.
     Place the prepared asparagus spears on top of the salad.
     Spoon some cilantro avocado dressing over the asparagus spears and salad.
     Place 2 tablespoons of diced tomato on top of salad..
     Place a few thin slices of green onion on the diced tomato.
     Garnish the plate with lime slices.
  
     This summer salad is a must to try!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Scorpion Fried Chicken








     Be Prepared For The Sting Of The Scorpion!
     Trinidad Scorpion Chile Peppers are currently the world's hottest commercially marketed chile pepper.  Trinidad Scorpion peppers have a Scoville Capsicum Heat Range Rating of about 1.4 to 2 million Scoville Units.  This means that Scorpion Peppers are about twice as hot as Ghost Peppers and 4 to 5 times hotter than a Red Seville Habanero.  Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are hotter than hell in July!  
     Both Trinidad Scorpions and Ghost Peppers have their origins in the Caribbean.  Both of these peppers are closely related to local strains of Scotch Bonnet Peppers, which similar to habaneros.  Locally grown super hot pepper varietals often take time to reach the limelight.  This is because extra spicy hot chile peppers appeal to the few and not the many.  
     The Trinidad Scorpion Pepper has been available locally on the island of Trinidad and Tobago for many years.  This pepper was selectively bred by the locals for its extra hot spicy qualities.  Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are prized by hot chile pepper lovers on this Caribbean Island.  Outsiders knew nothing about this hot pepper variety until recent years.  
      
     Ever since the hot pepper sauce craze began about 25 years ago, the quest for the worlds hottest pepper has led capsicum explorers to remote places in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  This is because the hottest pepper varieties are native to tropical regions in the Americas, so these regions provide the best odds for finding a new capsicum variety.  
     Even in this modern age, there are still many relatively unknown chile peppers to be discovered.  There are many unnamed pepper varietals that were previously categorized as being ornamental pepper plants that were not meant for modern human consumption.  Ornamental pepper plants tend to be prized for decorative landscaping usage and not culinary usage for one good reason.  Ornamental pepper varietals tend be so spicy hot, that even the toughest chile pepper eater will hesitate before taking a bite.         
     Now when a relatively unknown super hot chile pepper variety is discovered, the event receives plenty of attention from the growing number of hot chile pepper fans around the globe.  When a new worlds hottest chile pepper is discovered, chile pepper fans look upon the event as being the equivalent of discovering the lost city of gold.  
  
     Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce:
     Fresh Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are not easy to find at food markets.  Just about the the only place that fresh Scorpion Peppers can be possibly found is at a local farmers market.  In every farming community, there are a always few hot chile pepper enthusiasts that take pride in growing the hottest peppers possible.  
     Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce is easier to find at local food markets, than fresh Scorpion Peppers.  In Las Vegas, The Butcher Block location on Centennial Center Parkway is the only shop that I have seen in town that offers Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.  The Butcher Block in Las Vegas is a high quality butcher shop and they carry a full line of Dave's Gourmet chile pepper products.   
     Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce can be found at internet shopping websites like Amazon.  I personally am not a mall shopper, but the chances of finding Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce at a small specialty food shop in a mall are good too.

     Dave's Gourmet Inc is a legendary hot sauce company that specializes in making hot sauces with the hottest pepper varieties in the world.  This hot sauce company does not depend on tacky labels or racy product names to successfully market their products.  The quality and the "no holds barred" natural chile pepper heat is what makes Dave's Gourmet hot sauce products so popular.  In my opinion, Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce is the most natural tasting unadulterated chile pepper sauce that there is.  
     Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce can be used in recipes just like a Sambal Paste.  This pepper sauce is so spicy hot, that only a few drops are needed to flavor a pot of chili or stew.  

      I kind of go crazy with hot sauce sometimes.  When tasting Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce hot for the first time, I poured about 1 1/2 teaspoons of this Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce on a taco from a local Mexican restaurant.  The chile pepper heat instantly hit the tastes buds and the first thought that ran through my mind was "Oh no!  I just put way too much Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce on this taco and now I am going to have to experience the consequences!"  
     The chile pepper heat progressively climbed in intensity, like no hot pepper sauce that I have ever tasted before.  After about 4 minutes, a super strong chile pepper induced endorphin rush took over my senses.  The endorphin effect was so strong, that my body felt like it was covered with bags of ice!  I actually felt so cold, that I started shivering and sneezing!  Needless to say, I was smiling from ear to ear, because a hot chile pepper experience like this is a rare occurrence.  
     Just to confirm that the Scorpion Pepper endorphin effect that I experienced was not a fluke incident, I went to a friend's house and gave him a taco with the same amount of Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce on it.  His first reaction was one of cursing and swearing about how blazing hot that the Scorpion Pepper Sauce was!  After a few minutes, it became obvious that the endorphin effect kicked in, because my friend started saying something about how he felt ice cold.  This proved that the icy cold endorphin effect was not a "one timer!"
     "No pain, no gain!"  Fans of super hot sauce certainly will like Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce!  This product is naturally spicy hot and the intense Scorpion Pepper flavor tastes great.  
     More information can be found at this website:  Dave's Gourmet Inc

     *This entire recipe yields 1 single portion!  (One half of a chicken.)   

     Trinidad Scorpion Beer Batter For Fried Chicken:  
     • This batter is spicy hot, but it is not unbearable.  Some of the capsicum oil dissipates when the batter is deep fried.  
     • About 1 tablespoon of Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce will create a medium hot flavor.  Two tablespoons will create a fiery hot flavor.  
     • The pieces of chicken should be allowed to marinate in the batter for 15 minutes before deep frying, so the Scorpion Pepper flavor penetrates the chicken meat.  The longer that the chicken sits in the batter, the hotter the chicken will taste. 
     • Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce is not cheap, so only enough batter should be made to coat the chicken!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/3 cups of lager beer in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.  (Dave's Gourmet brand was used in this recipe.)
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour while stirring with a whisk, to create a medium thin batter consistency.  The batter should be as thick as pancake batter.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the batter aside.

     Trinidad Scorpion Fried Chicken:
     The batter and flour dredging method in this recipe produces an extra crispy fried chicken coating!
     Step 1:  Select 1/2 of a large fryer chicken.
     Section the chicken into wing, leg, thigh and breast pieces.  Do not remove the bones or skin.
     Cut the large fryer chicken breast into 2 equal size pieces.  (Use a cleaver or heavy chef knife.)
     Step 2:  Dredge the chicken pieces in plain flour.
     Place the floured chicken pieces in the Trinidad Scorpion Beer Batter.  Toss the ingredients together till the chicken pieces are coated.
     Place the mixing bowl of batter coated chicken in a refrigerator for about 15 minutes, so the Scorpion Pepper flavor marinates the chicken meat.
     Step 3:  Heat 8" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 4:  Place 1 1/2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl.
     Season the flour with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 5:  Toss the chicken pieces in the batter one last time, so they are evenly coated.  
     Dredge one piece of batter coated chicken at a time in the seasoned flour and place it in the hot frying oil.  (Do the large pieces first and the smaller pieces last.)  
     Step 6:  Fry the chicken till it is fully cooked and crispy golden brown.  (CGB!)  
     *A probe thermometer placed in the center of the thickest piece should read 165ºF for 15 seconds. 
     Step 7:  Use a fryer net to place the fried chicken pieces on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep Trinidad Scorpion Fried Chicken warm on a stove top.

     Presentation:
     Place a bed of Italian Parsley sprigs on a plate.
     Stack the Trinidad Scorpion Fried Chicken pieces on the center of the plate.
     Garnish with thin dill pickle spears.

     Viola!  Extra crispy Trinidad Scorpion Fried Chicken!  
     Like I mentioned earlier in the recipe, 1 tablespoon of the Scorpion Pepper Hot sauce creates a medium level of spicy heat.  Adding 2 tablespoons will guarantee that the sting of the scorpion will be felt! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Mexico Chile and Desert Wildflower Honey Glazed American Bison Ribeye Steak Sandwich with Grilled Bermuda Oignon










     A Southwestern Style Spicy Sweet Buffalo Steak Sandwich!
     American Bison Ribeye Steaks are just about the same price as USDA Prime Grade Beef or Organic Grass Fed Free Range Beef.  Many folks shy away from beef these days, because they fear that traces of chemicals are present in the meat.  This is a factor in some lower grades of beef, but not in all.
     An alternative to beef is wild game.  In the American West, every butcher shop offers everything from antelope to venison.  The most common wild game offerings at western butcher shops are bison, boar, elk and deer.  At common grocery stores, bison is usually the only wild game meat offering.  All wild game meats are organic and most are free range farm raised.  Wild game is the best alternative for any domesticated farmed meat.
     Many folks in the west only consume wild game.  A Shawnee Tribe Member who once was a neighborhood friend of mine, ate bison almost everyday.  This guy was over 65 years old and he was strong, healthy and his cholesterol count was minimal.  Wild game is healthy food!

     Today's Bison recipe is very simple and only a few ingredients are needed, yet the flavor is superb.  For the most part, a bison ribeye steak is so tender, that it does not need to be tenderized for a sandwich application.
      Desert Wildflower Honey is featured in today's recipe.  Because of the arid hot desert climate, this type of honey has a dark amber brown color.  The honey flavor is very rich, because their is less water available in the desert for bees to consume and because of the evaporative effect of the arid climatic conditions on flower nectar.  The flavor of desert wildflowers can actually be tasted in this natural desert honey.  Desert Wildflower Honey does make a difference in today's recipe.

     New Mexico Chile Peppers can range from very mild to medium spicy hot.  Mildly spicy ground New Mexico Chiles were used in todays recipe, because they do not overwhelm the flavor of the Desert Wildflower Honey or the bison steak.
     French Fries, baked spuds or potato salad can be just plain old too heavy on the tummy out here in the scorching heat of the desert southwest.  A nice refreshing light cucumber & tomato salad is a better choice of accompaniment.  Fresh dill weed adds a nice refreshing garden herb flavor.  Chinese Chinkiang Vinegar (Black Vinegar) has a very complex flavor that easily compares to Italian Balsamic Vinegar.  Black Vinegar has a pleasant acidic sweet flavor that is refreshing on a hot summer day.

     Black Vinegar Dill Cucumber and Vine Ripe Roma Tomato Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 accompanying portion!
     Cucumber and tomato salads should be made shortly before serving.  If the salad is made to far ahead of time, the texture will become limp.
     Black Vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar) can be found at Asian food markets.
     Organic Produce is the best choice, even though the price is a little bit high.  By purchasing organic non GMO produce more often, the market price will eventually be reduced to a normal level.  
     Step 1:  *To make cucumber rings (rondelle), peel the cucumber, then cut it in half across the middle.  Use an apple coring tool, a thin bladed paring knife or a small spoon to remove the seed core.  Cut the cucumber into 1/4" thick rings.   
     Turn a 5" section of peeled cucumber into 1/4" thick rings.
     Step 2:  Place the cucumber rings in a mixing bowl.   
     Add 1/2 of a medium size Vine Rip Roma Tomato that is cut into petite wedges.
     Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 teaspoon of Chinese Black Vinegar.  (Chinkiang Vinegar)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 pinch of Kosher Salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of onion powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Chill the salad for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Grilled Bermuda Onion:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 sandwich!
     Cut a medium size bermuda onion into 3/8" thick rings.  (about 1 large handful of onion rings)
     Heat a wide sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the bermuda onion rings.
     Gently grill the onion rings, till they are al dente.
     Keep the onion rings warm on a stove top.

     Grilled Whole Wheat Sub Roll:
     Bison is lean meat and it does not take much time for it to cook.  It is best to grill the bread before starting the bison steak.
     Split an 8" whole wheat sub roll in half and brush it with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the roll on a griddle set to medium/medium low heat, till it is toasted golden brown.
     Keep the sub roll warm on a stove top.

     New Mexico Chile and Desert Wildflower Honey Glazed American Bison Ribeye Steak:
     • Bison should only be cooked medium rare or a medium finished steak temperature.  Bison Ribeye is very lean and the meat will become tough if it is cooked well done.  
     • If well done bison is preferred, use a spring loaded multi pin blade meat tenderizing tool to perforate the steak.  The Jaccard Supertendermatic 48-Blade Tenderizer is the best for perforating steak sinew.  This tool also is used to perforate sinew on the short-loin strip section of a porterhouse steak.  
     • This recipe is made at a rapid pace.  The glacé sauce only takes minutes to prepare.  
     • It is important to sear the steak one shade lighter than the desired finished steak temperature, because after the glacé is made, the steak is reheated in the sauce! 
     Step 1:  Select a bison ribeye steak that weighs 10 to 12 ounces.
     Lightly season the bison steak with Kosher Salt and crushed black peppercorns.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the seasoned bison steak.
     Allow the meat to brown, before flipping the steak.  Brown the steak on both sides.  Cook the bison steak to one shade less than the desired finish temperature.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the bison steak aside on a platter.
     Drain the grease out of the pan.
     Step 4:  Return the the degreased pan to medium heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Quickly deglaze the pan, as the water comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Mild New Mexico Chile Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of onion powder.
     Add 1 small pinch of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Step 6:  Stir the sauce, as the chile powder reconstitutes and becomes a very thin watery Chile Colorado Sauce.
     Simmer and reduce, till the Chile Colorado Sauce becomes a thin consistency that can lightly coat the back of a spoon.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dark Amber Desert Wildflower Honey, while stirring.
     Step 7:  Return the seared bison ribeye steak to the sauce in the pan.
     Simmer and reduce the New Mexico Chile and Desert Wildflower Honey Glacé Sauce, till it becomes thick enough to glaze the bison steak.  Flip the bison steak in the sauce a few times, as it reheats.
     Remove the pan from the heat, when the steak is thoroughly glazed.

     New Mexico Chile and Desert Wildflower Honey Glazed American Bison Ribeye Steak Sandwich with Grilled Bermuda Oignon ~ Black Vinegar Dill Cucumber and Vine Ripe Roma Tomato Salad:
     Step 1:  Grill or toast a sub sandwich roll that is about the same size as the steak.
     Place the bottom half of the grilled sub roll on a plate.
     Place the New Mexico Chile and Desert Wildflower Honey Glazed American Bison Ribeye Steak on the bread.  Pour any excess glacé sauce over the steak or serve it on the side in a ramekin.
     Place the Grilled Bermuda Oignons on the steak.
     Pin the top half of the sub roll on the sandwich with fancy bamboo skewers.
     Step 2:  Place a portion of the Black Vinegar Dill Cucumber and Vine Ripe Roma Tomato Salad on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with:
     – Dill Sprigs
     – Pickled Sweet Red & Yellow Banana Pepper Rings
     – A Petite Sweet Gherkin Pickle that is cut in half.
   
     This is one super tasty sweet and mildly spicy Southwestern style American Bison Ribeye Steak Sandwich!