After my recent post on chile-laced tamarind ice cream, a friend sent me a recipe for cooked apples with ancho chile.
I wasn’t paying attention at the supermarket, and found myself with all the necessary ingredients except ancho chile. I’m a resourceful guy, so I thought “what the heck” and substituted chipotle… with disappointing results. I ended up with an oddly smoky, brown-sugary mess that just didn’t work with the sour granny smith apples.
That’s when I was reminded that it’s high time I learned the difference between the many different chiles.
Here’s a great starting point. A summary that features 12 commonly available chiles, with a quick description of each, and an indication of their heat level.
I wasn’t surprised to see how hot the habaneros can be. I have a vivid memory of tasting a tiny dollop of habanero salsa one evening in Mérida, and pretty much ruining my dinner with the pain.
I was disappointed some time ago when the Gaucho Grill closed on the Santa Monica Promenade, but I instantly forgave them when it was replaced by Lotería Grill. I used to go to their original location when I lived near the Farmers Market on Third Street, but this is a much more inviting restaurant, and the food is every bit a good as it always was.
A long-time favorite has been the carnitas burrito with salsa morita, but this was the first time I had the entire “platillo.” Morita chiles are smoked, red-ripe jalapeño peppers, like chipotle peppers, except they are smoked for a shorter time. Interestingly, Lotería’s salsa packs more of a punch than I would have expected from a jalapeño. The rich, almost fruity flavor goes beautifully with the perfectly cooked pork, and the sides of rice and black beans provide a nice balance.