Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Check out this habanero-infused olive oil we threw together after our recent, massive chile harvest. Spicy! I’m hooked!

~2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4-6 fresh habanero chiles, washed

1. Wear latex gloves.

2. Choose a cutting board that is not super-absorbent (such as glass), or, even better, have a dedicated chile-cutting board. You could also line your cutting board with a plastic bag, being careful not to pierce the bag when cutting. Slice habaneros as desired and set cutting board aside.

3. Fill a glass container (Mason jar, recycled and washed olive oil or salad dressing bottle) half full (or so) with olive oil. Add the peppers to the olive oil, leaving some room for air at the top.

4. Wrap a paper towel or cheesecloth around the mouth of the jar and secure with twine (don’t use a rubber band!). Microwave the oil on high for a few seconds, watching closely, or until it comes just to a near-boil—just bubbling. Do not let the olive oil boil, or you will have a huge mess on your hands.

5. If you used a paper towel for the cover, remove it and replace with a fresh one. Turn the bottle or jar upside down and drain the oil into another container (any material will do—I used a Martha Steward plastic fridge containers!). Place in the refrigerator upside-down and allow the oil to cool until it’s solid. Discard chile hulls and seeds; we use ours for compost.

6. Remove the container and pour off any water that has separated. Allow the olive oil to return to liquid form at room temperature. Pour the infused oil back into the glass container and put the lid on. Eccola! Habanero-infused olive oil!

Mmm.

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

I added a couple more slices to this, for extra kick and pretty presentation!

Advertisements

Stella’s Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

This isn’t a proper chile relleno recipe, as my poblanos aren’t battered, nor are they served with a typical tomato-based sauce. But they are super flavorful and deceptively easy, and I’m positive you’ll be as hooked as we are if you try this recipe!  We’ve been making these often lately because they’re is so quick and painless; I was prodded by followers on Instagram to share the recipe.

Of course, you can play around with the fillings, but these are my favorites. The rich, mature flavor of the asiago cheese pairs perfectly with bacon and cream cheese, and this hearty, slightly spicy beef transforms humble chiles into a meal.  Feel free to top with salsa or crema mexicana for extra decadence.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6 large poblano chiles
4 bacon rashers
1/2 white onion, finely diced; halved
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp Cholula or other hot sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
splash Worcestershire sauce
2 cups asiago cheese, grated
4 oz. cream cheese

Also needed:
latex gloves
toothpicks
broiling pan or cookie sheet
aluminum foil

1. In a large skillet (I used a cast iron), cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, turning a few times. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Pour bacon grease into a mason jar and save for future cooking, reserving about 1 teaspoon in the skillet.

2. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about two minutes. Remove half the oven from the pan and set aside. To the rest of the onion, add beef, breaking it up with your spatula, and continue to sauté until cooked through, about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add spices, Cholula, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

3. Meanwhile, wearing latex gloves, cut the tops off the poblanos and seed them. Cut out the ribs, as well. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

4. Once the beef is done, drain the juices and set the meat and onion mixture aside in a bowl. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the previously cooked onion, 1 cup of the grated asiago, and the cream cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon, then crumble bacon into the bowl. Continue to stir until thoroughly combined.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

5. Stuff the poblanos: take one pepper, and stuff it full with the cheese and bacon mixture, compressing the cheese down with a spoon as you stuff. Place the top back on the pepper and secure it with two toothpicks, pushed through the flesh of the pepper’s side and cap (see below). For the other four poblanos, alternately stuff with the plain grated asiago and beef mix until they are also full. Secure tops with toothpicks.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6. Carefully move all the peppers to a broiling pan or foil-lined cookie sheet. Set oven to broil and cook on each side for two to three minutes, turning over once (again, carefully) with a large spatula. The peppers will darken and bubble a bit.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

7. Remove the pan from the oven and allow peppers to cool for a couple of minutes before gently removing them from the pan. Plate as-is and serve immediately with any garnish desired.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

To eat, simply remove the toothpicks and dig in!

Serves 3 as a main, 6 as an appetizer or side.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Sunday Morning Migas

I throw some migas together at least once a week, usually for a weekend brunch.  Since I don’t like tomatoes, I usually don’t have any on hand, but you might want to include some diced tomatoes for a more standard result.  Instead, I focus on an assortment of peppers and making the scrambled eggs perfect.

Traditional Tex-Mex migas not only include diced tomatoes, but also strips of corn tortilla, diced chiles, onion, cheese, and salsa.  They’re usually served with refried beans and warm tortillas on the side.  Sometimes, they’re served with fried potatoes.

I serve mine with whatever I have on hand. I try to make my Frijoles Negros Refritos at least twice a month, and they’re a perfect complement. If you eat meat, you can also throw in some sausage, bacon, or chorizo!

Without further ado, here’s the easy recipe!

1 heaping tsp bacon fat (or butter)
4 regular-sized corn tortillas, cut intro 1/4″ strips
6 large eggs
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2 finely diced chiles (hot or sweet or a mix, to taste!)
1/2 white onion, finely diced (sometimes I use red)
1/2 tomato, seeded and diced (optional)
1 cup grated cheese (Monterey Jack is best, or try Pepper Jack)
jar of salsa, to garnish
sour cream (optional)

1. Melt bacon fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortilla strips and fry until just crispy, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Remove strips to a paper towel to drain. Turn stovetop heat to low.

2. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk lightly until yolks are broken, then drizzle in cream, continuing to whisk. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin, and whisk lightly to mix. Then add chiles, onions, and tomatoes (if using). Stir lightly and set aside.

3. Using the leftover bacon grease still in the pan, you will now scramble the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Allow to sit for just about one minute, then begin to stir. The mixture will quickly begin to firm up. Continue to lightly fold the eggs over repeatedly until they reach the perfect consistency (about three minutes).

4. Here, you can either add the tortilla strips back into the pan and mix them in with the eggs (traditional), or you can plate the strips and serve the eggs on top (deconstructed). I usually do the latter, because I like really crispy tortilla strips, but you may prefer them mixed. Try both and see!

5. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the eggs. Then add a generous dollop of salsa to the top of the migas (and sour cream, if using). Serve immediately, while still hot.

Serves 2.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you these migas are also great for dinner.

Fish Tacos with Sweet and Spicy Carrot Slaw

Here it is, as promised!

This one’s really easy, yet the results are pleasingly complex in flavor.

For the tacos
~1 lb. fish fillet of your choice – we used red drum
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly, plus juice
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 corn tortillas
1 tsp bacon fat
extra lemon wedges, for garnish

For the slaw
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 small sweet peppers (like small bell peppers, Cubanelles, and/or Dulcetta, which I used here)
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used this, which was sweet and spicy itself and added to the complexity)
pinch of brown sugar
2 Tbsp cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place a large piece of aluminum foil a shallow baking tin, and gently lay the fish fillet atop it. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, turning fish twice to make sure it is evenly covered in both. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, dill, salt, and pepper on fish. Place lemon slices under and on top of the fillet. Wrap foil around the fish to make a tent, leaving the ends open a bit. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. When done, its flesh should no longer be pink, but rather solid white and flaky. For about a pound, which I cooked here, it took 20 minutes to achieve the perfect doneness and texture.

2. While the fish is baking, fry your tortillas in melted bacon fat over medium high heat in a large skillet. Flip them with a spatula so that both sides are evenly cooked. If using a large skillet, you should be able to do at least two at a time. Don’t allow them to become crispy, just softened and lightly browned. As each tortilla is done, set it aside on a plate between paper towels to drain the grease and retain heat.

3. After the tortillas are all cooked, drain any excess grease from the pan, leaving just a little, gleaming layer for flavoring the slaw. Add the carrots and peppers and toss over medium high heat for just a couple of minutes, until their colors intensify. Reduce heat to low and add hot sauce and brown sugar; still thoroughly. Finally, add the cream and stir again. The slaw should now have a nice, thickened consistency, and smell sweet, spicy, and fragrant. Remove pan from heat. For me, all of these elements were done at the same time, so it was easy to prepare the tacos while the separate ingredients were still warm; this is what you should be shooting for with this dish.

4. Once the fish is done, remove it from the oven. Unwrap the foil and, using your fingers or a fork, shred the flesh into bite-sized pieces.

5. Place the tortillas on your serving plates. Scoop up the pieces of warm fish, carefully avoiding any lemon slices, and place them on the tacos. Top with freshly mixed slaw and serve immediately with lemon wedges for garnish.

Serves 2.

Gluten Free Tex-Mex Fried Chicken

We’ve been eating this once a week, so I had to share!

I’ve been developing the perfect gluten free batter recipe for a few weeks; last Sunday, while we were at Sagra for their amazing weekend brunch, our waiter surprised us with a gift of mixed pepper flakes!  They’re serious about locally grown, organic ingredients.  They even have their own greenhouse in South Austin.

And they accept vegetables from their customers!  Eric often takes batches of homegrown produce to Sagra (squash, chiles, pumpkins). Our chiles have made their way into infused olive oils, for instance.  Sometimes we get to sample the latest cocktails dreamed up by the amazing bartender.  This week, we got these amazing pepper flakes.  I can’t remember the whole litany, but I know it included jalapeño, habanero, poblano, anaheim, serrano, and hatch chiles.

I decided to incorporate them into my fried chicken batter, and they took the result from good to fantastic!

We’ve been buying chicken tenders from Wheatsville lately, so that’s what I fried.  Note that frying whole pieces will take longer, depending on the part, and bone-in chicken will take considerably longer.  In fact, that would be a whole different recipe, involving a lot more frying fat and a lot more splatter.  But this recipe is perfect for smaller pieces of meat.  It would also be excellent for veggies, such as zucchini (which I served roasted, as a side dish).

Another secret is the bacon fat.  I keep two Mason jars in the fridge at all times.  Every time I fry some bacon (so, practically daily), I drain it through a paper towel and into the jar.  I then use it for all manner of things, such as extra decadent scrambled eggs, perfectly fried corn tortillas, or Yorkshire puddings.

If you have a problem with deep frying things in bacon fat, you’re on the wrong blog!

~2 lb. chicken, cut of your choice (I used boneless breast tenders here)
2 eggs
1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes (mixed varieties, if available)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
~6 Tbsp strained bacon fat

1. Using two shallow dishes (I have stainless steel dredging pans just for this purpose), crack eggs (white and yolks) into one and lightly beat until well mixed; thoroughly mix dry ingredients in the other to create your batter. Set them up in order, depending on whether you’re moving the chicken left or right, with a large plate at the end for your dipped and battered meat.

2. Dredge each piece of chicken as follows: dip the meat into the egg mixture, turning it over so that the whole piece is coated in a thin layer of gooey egg. Immediately drop it into the batter mix and thoroughly coat it, turning over a few times. Gently place the battered chicken on the plate to the side. Continue until all pieces are battered. Allow them to sit for at least ten minutes to give the batter a chance to set. This will help prevent batter from sloughing off in the pan.

3. Meanwhile, in a large, preferably cast iron, skillet, heat half the bacon fat over medium high heat until melted and popping. The fat should be at least a half inch deep, preferably an inch. You may need to adjust the size of skillet you use or amount of fat in order to get just the right amount.

4. Next, gingerly lay pieces of chicken into the grease until the pan is full, with room to maneuver each piece with a scratch-proof spatula. You may have to do two, or even three, rounds of frying. The chicken will immediately begin to pop and spit; if this presents a problem, use a splatter screen when not turning the meat.

5. Allow the chicken to cook for about five minutes on each side, turning them over carefully with your spatula, until the batter is nicely browned and crisp. Gently scoop each piece up and place it on paper towels aside on a plate to cool and drain the excess grease. Repeat until all the chicken is fried.

If you’re unsure whether the chicken is fully cooked, just cut one of the tenders open with a knife and see. The meat should be white throughout and tender, but not rubbery. If it is rubbery, you’ve cooked it too long. Adjust your times accordingly for the rest of the batch. Fully cooked chicken should be 165° in the center. Use a cooking thermometer to test if you are unsure. After you do this a few times, you will become an expert on the cooking times for different meats based on the combination of your particular oven or stove and chosen cooking method.

After the meat has drained for a few minutes, you can wrap it up in clean cloth to serve a bit later with sides, or serve it immediately while it’s piping hot.

I like this Tex-Mex fried chicken with hot sauce (we keep a bottle of Cholula on hand at all times), but Eric also likes to dip his tenders in Ranch dressing, which is also delicious with the side dish I like to make: roasted zucchini wedges drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dill. Go crazy!

Serves 2-4.