I have long been a fan of cookbook authors who can scan the countryside for foods and recipes native to the area being featured. This is the case with Betty Fussell and her cookbook, I Hear America Cooking. Published back in 1986, I Hear America Cooking takes you on a food journey from coast to coast and in between. It’s the in between that I wanted to focus on for this article.
The “in between”, called the “Mexamerican Desert” in part one of the book, speaks mostly on the cooking of corn and chilies and foods that are indigenous to the American southwest. Tortillas, Navajo Kneel- Down Bread, enchiladas, tamales, hominy, and chilies, and the stories of their creation are all part of this food history.
One particular recipe in the book is one that I have been interested in for some time now, but really had not found a good authentic recipe for it, and that is a green chili sauce like the sauces used in New Mexico. To quote Miss Fussell’s book, “In New Mexico restaurants you are asked whether you want your chili sauce green or red, and New Mexicans opt for green. “Green means summer and red means winter…”
Since we are in the middle of the summer and all those peppers growing out there ought to be about ripe, I thought you might like to try this recipe, too.
Here’s the good part- this recipe uses either fresh green chilies or green bell peppers.
You ready to make some sauce? Linda
Fresh Green Chili Sauce
10-12 fresh green chilies, or 3-4 green bell peppers plus 1 jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup minced onion or green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
4 sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro)
*Roast the chilies over a gas flame or under a broiler. Steam 10 minutes in a paper bag to loosen skins, then peel them and remove stems. Discard seeds and veins if you want mild chili. Chop chilies coarsely and mix with the other vegetables and seasonings. Taste. Makes 3-4 cups.
Use this for your favorite burrito, enchilada, or layer black beans, egg, and chorizo on a corn tortilla and use the chili sauce over the top.
*Roasting chilies or peppers- to roast chilies or peppers you want to pierce them with a fork or knife so that pressure does not build up and cause the peppers to explode. If you have a gas stove you can put the chilies or green peppers on top of the burner until the skin is black, and then remove to a paper bag for about 10 minutes to steam, then remove stems and peel off the skins. If you have an electric oven, put the peppers under the broiler until the skin is parched and black, and then follow the same instructions for the gas stove. Be careful, the peppers will be hot. Don’t use a plastic bag because the bag will melt when the hot peppers go inside to steam.
By Jolene Hansen, GardenTech
Photographs courtesy of GardenTech
With good soil, proper temperatures and a little TLC, growing bell peppers is a simple, satisfying garden project – even if you're planting your first garden. Learning a few pepper-growing basics is all it takes to experience the garden-to-table goodness of homegrown bells.
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