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Spicy Recipes

Chile pepper devotee Dave Dewitt has been collecting and preparing spicy recipes since 1974. Over that time, he's gathered thousands. Here are four of his favorites.

Chile Paste

Chile pastes are very popular throughout Southeast Asia, and are used to add heat to a dish. The pastes can be added during cooking or can be used as a condiment or relish on the table. Vary the amount of garlic to suit individual taste.

Heat Scale: 9
Yield: 3 to 4 cups

1 cup small dried red chiles such as Piquins
2 cups dried crushed red New Mexican chiles, seeds included
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients plus ¾ cup of water in a blender and puree for 1 minute or to the consistency of a thick paste. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator. It will last up to three months.

Jerk Pork with Pimento Season-Up

The "jerk" in jerk pork is a spice mixture that was used to preserve meat before refrigeration. It was developed in Jamaica by runaway slaves known as Maroons. These days, the spices are used to season meats for barbecue and to tenderize rather than to preserve. In Jamaica, jerk pork is one of the most popular entrées, and features fresh pimento (allspice) berries, which should not be confused with pimiento, the mild pepper used to stuff olives.

Heat Scale: 5
Serves: 4

4 Habanero or 7 Jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
2 ounces fresh pimento berries
(or substitute ¼ cup powdered allspice)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 center-cut pork chops

Pound or puree all the ingredients, except the pork, to make a thick paste. Spread the paste over the chops and marinate for one hour or longer.

Grill the chops over a hot charcoal fire until done. The seasonings will cause the chops to char on the outside, which is natural for this dish.

Serving Suggestions: A tomato and cucumber salad and coconut rice complement jerk pork.

Variations: Substitute lamb chops, chicken, or rib steaks for the pork.

Jalapeno Cornbread

The heat of this bread can be decreased by reducing the amount of Jalapeños or by substituting peeled and chopped green New Mexican chiles. We suggest using blue cornmeal in place of the yellow for a real northern New Mexico specialty.

Heat Scale: 3
Serves: 6

4 tablespoons finely chopped Jalapeño chiles
1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup finely-chopped onions
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons bacon drippings or shotening, melted

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the buttermilk with the chiles, garlic, and onions until small bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Combine the eggs, cheese, buttermilk, and shortening, and blend well. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Pour into a greased 9-inch-square pan and bake in a 425º F oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cornbread is done.

Serving Suggestions: Serve this bread with any chili con carne recipes, or with coleslaw and pork and beans for a real Texas cookout.

Chile Chat

Chat refers to a salad, as well as to the stands or houses that sell them in northern India. They are eaten cool but not cold as a snack or an appetizer, or with a meal as a side dish. They can be made with fruits or vegetable and commonly have coriander and cumin seeds as an ingredient.

Heat Scale: 3
Serves: 4 to 6

3 teaspoons ground Cayenne
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
½ cup shredded radishes
¼ cup finely chopped onions
¼ cup toasted cashews or peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons ghee* or vegetable oil

Combine the Cayenne, carrots, radishes, onions, nuts, and cilantro. Heat the oil to 250º F, add the seeds, and heat until they darken. Pour the oil over the salad, toss, and allow to sit for an hour to blend the flavors.

* Ghee is a clarified butter commonly used in Indian recipes

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Compiled by David Kohn. Recipes originally appeared in The Whole Chile Pepper Book.

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