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Vail Simply Seasonal: Add sizzle with chipotle

Sue Barhamnewsroom@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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Necessity is the mother of invention. The ancient Aztecs of the region now known as Mexico City were farmers of a bountiful jalapeno crop. Alas, the pungent pepper was prone to quick spoilage. The Aztec people developed a method of smoke-drying in an effort to preserve the harvest, and the flavorful chipotle was born. Today, the chipotle is a favorite ingredient of restaurant chefs and home cooks alike. The rich, smoky pepper is available whole, ground or canned in adobo sauce (a mixture of tomato puree, vinegar and other spices.) “Chipotle adds a sizzle to so many dishes,” said Michael Mayer, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale. “You can take a classic French aioli, add chipotle and have a zesty sauce that complements fish, meats, vegetables and sandwiches.””Or add chipotle to salsas, pizza sauce, your favorite spice rub, soups and stews,” he continued. “Use chipotle sparingly at first, until you learn your heat threshold.” The standard of measuring the heat of chiles is the Scoville unit, developed in 1912. Capsaicin is the compound that gives chiles their heat; the Scoville chart rates the chiles on capsaicin units comparable to other peppers. Chipotles retain most of the natural heat of the jalapeno, rating them “moderate” on this scale. When cooking with chipotle, judge how much to use according to your preference of a jalapeno’s heat.Experiment with chipotle by trying the aioli here to add a sizzle to your burgers, steamed artichokes, and fish tacos. You’ll quickly be eager to update all of your classics with this spicy dimension.

3/4 cup homemade (or high quality purchased) mayonnaise3 tablespoons minced dill pickles1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce 1⁄2 tablespoon ketchup1 clove garlic, peeled1⁄4 teaspoon paprika1⁄4 teaspoon cayennePut all ingredients into a small processor or blender and process until smooth. Adjust spiciness as necessary to taste. Keep refrigerated, up to one week. Makes about 1 cup.

2 Tablespoons olive oil1 medium yellow onion, chopped3 garlic cloves, chopped1 teaspoon ground cumin1-2 chipotle peppers, chopped8 cups cooked pumpkin (about three 15-ounce cans pumpkin)4 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 teaspoons saltGarnishes:Lime wedgesToasted pepitasCilantroCreme fresca, creme fraiche or sour creamHeat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and chipotle, cook for 1 minute more. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, oregano and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt or chipotle to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water to desired consistency. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with pepitas, cilantro and a drizzle of crme fraiche. Serve lime wedges alongside. Makes 2 quarts.



4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced2 garlic cloves, minced2 tablespoons honey2 teaspoons cider vinegar1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus additional to taste1 teaspoon cumin1/2 teaspoon cinnamon6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry 1/2 cup chicken brothChopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil and scatter on the bottom of a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the chilies, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon to make a paste. Rub the paste evenly over each breast. Place the chicken breasts on top of the sweet potatoes and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove chicken and sweet potatoes from pan and place on individual plates. Place the roasting pan on a burner on medium heat. Add chicken broth, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Allow to thicken slightly, then drizzle over chicken breasts. Serve garnished with cilantro if desired. Serves 6.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Contact sbarham@avondalerestaurant.com.


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