Ground chile pepper (Recipe: white chili)
Were you among the 30,000 people in Hatch, New Mexico, at noon on September 1, when the Chile Queen and her Red and Green Chile Princesses were crowned at the kick-off of the world's most famous chile festival?
Did you watch the chile-eating contests and inhale the aroma of fresh green chiles being roasted in the field? Did you purchase some ristras, taste the burritos and sopapillas, ogle the best-of-show chile pods?
Thanks to friends who travel frequently to Taos, however, I am well supplied with several varieties of New Mexico dried ground chile pepper, and my pantry would be naked without it. (Left to right in the photo above: red and green flakes, ground red, ancho.)
Big Jim, Sandia, Anaheim and Espanola are the most popular New Mexico chile varieties; all rank as fairly mild on the Scoville scale, at 500-2,500 Scoville units. (A bell pepper is 0 Scoville units, a habanero 300,000 or more.) In my pantry, I also have hot ground chile from Vietnam, and wickedly hot cayenne, from California, plus mild and hot variations of what we call pizza peppah here in Rhode Island.
Chili powder (with an "i") and ground chile pepper (with an "e") are two different products. With an "e", it's pure pepper. With an "i", it's a blend, often containing one or more varieties of ground chile pepper, plus cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano. And, even more confusing, many recipes for chili call for some type of chile.
According to New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute, where in addition to scholarly research and practical advice, you can also find an online seed catalog, one teaspoon of dried red chile powder provides an adult's daily requirement of Vitamin A, and one fresh green chile pod has as much Vitamin C as six oranges.
In fact, chiles are so popular that, for more than 20 years, they've even had their own magazine. Now, how many foods can make that claim?
Adapted from Weekend! A Menu Cookbook for Relaxed Entertaining, by Edith Stovel and Pamela Wakefield, this is a great recipe for those who don’t eat beef but still want some meat in their chili. Serves 8.
3 19-oz cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
14 oz homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock (I use Swanson 99%)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey breast or ground chicken breast
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped onion
1 4-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chile powder or ancho chile powder, or more to taste
1/3 tsp cinnamon
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, to taste
1/2 cup each: thinly sliced green onions, grated cheddar cheese, minced red onion (for garnish)
In a large heavy pot, combine beans with the chicken stock and heat over low heat while you prepare the remaining components of the chili. In another frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the ground turkey and sauté, stirring frequently, until the turkey is lightly browned. Add the onions and garlic, and continue cooking until the onions are soft. Add chiles, cumin, oregano, chile powder and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Stir the turkey mixture into the beans, and add hot pepper sauce to taste. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat (don’t allow the chili to boil) for 10-15 minutes. Garnish as desired and serve hot.