Monday, November 7, 2011

Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose

In the mail arrived a huge sack of fresh peppers, a few different varieties. Brilliant vibrant colors, all so alive! Big Ed had sent them from his farm in southern Indiana. Well, its his home garden but you'd think he had a huge spread of land. He has a real green thumb for these peppers.

It was time to have some fun! I immediately sought out a few recipes, thinking I'd need to reach across the globe to really highlight their individual flavors. If you isolate the flavor of peppers and really taste them, their essence is very distinct. A habanero to me is like tasting the color black. Its the deepest darkest hottest flavor but take away some of the heat and it becomes purpley in taste. I love jalapenos and feel they don't get enough props. Grilled, they are so mellow and sweet. Fresh they are like citrus, nice and tart, the flavor pops right out at you. I'm sort of just discovering the red hot chili pepper. I love it in Thai food but I'm sure it has so many other uses. I can't wait to find them.

But this time since I knew the jalapenos wouldn't last forever, I used them first and for a White Bean Chicken Chili. At first taste I thought it was good but it didn't move me. Second night, this soup was ALL that! Honestly, the one night of getting all friendly and chummy in that pot made everything sing.

First I made a chicken stock with a pack of chicken thighs, celery, onion, peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic. Meanwhile I got the beans ready for boiling and pan roasted a huge bunch of jalapenos. I skimmed the fat off the stock and added the beans. The one lesson I learned over the years is not to add salt yet until after the beans are tender. After about an hour I added the peppers, chicken and adjusted the seasoning. Cumin replaces the chili powder in this soup along with coriander, salt and pepper. I left the seeds in about 5 of the peppers to give the soup heat because white beans are super mellow and need some motivation to shine.

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