Datil Peppers

 This post is mostly for Mike, but some of you also like spicy cooking.

So my son stopped by a spice shop a few towns over that I visit whenever I roll through. Recognizing him, the proprietor gave him a big sack of something called Datil pepper for him to bring me. The proprietor told him that she'd just gotten it in, and wanted me to see what I could do with it. 

I'd never actually heard of it before, but a little research showed that it was similar to a habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper in heat. It has a nice floral quality compared to those other two. 

I prepared a few recipes for them to thank them for the free pepper. I thought I'd share them with you, too.

Recipe #1: Drunken Pterodactyl Sauce 

This one is a cream sauce that is great with grilled meats. It is 'drunken' because of the cream, and the chicken whose broth is used is a distant relative of the pterodactyl. (Plus, "datil/dactyl" is a fun play on words.) 

1 TBSP butter 
1 TBSP minced garlic 
Ground dactil pepper to taste (start with 1 level tsp, less if you are not a fan of hot foods; more if you really are) 
Mexican cream (or heavy cream) 
1 can Hatch green chilies (or other green chilies, can substitute roasted tomotillos) 
2tsp brown sugar 
Chicken broth 
Lime juice 

Begin by melting butter in a cast iron pan. Add garlic, cooking briefly until the butter is suffused with garlic flavor. Add datil pepper and green chilies, stirring until mixed. 

Now add Mexican cream, approximately 1 cup; vary according to taste. This blunts the heat of the pepper, so add more if it tastes too spicy at this time. (In the future, you can use a bit less pepper, but for now extra cream will do.) Add brown sugar and stir. Add chicken broth just until all the peppers float. Cook until it begins to thicken. 

Remove from heat. Blend on puree setting until smooth. Add lime juice and salt to taste, starting with a teaspoon of lime juice and then salt until it is right. Stores for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Recipe #2: Grim's Red Chili Powder 

A variation on standard chili powder, hotter and southwestern in character because of the substitution of New Mexican red pepper for Mexican-style ancho pepper. 

1 oz. ground New Mexican Red Pepper 
1 heaping tsp. cumin 
1 level tsp. Mexican oregano 
1 tsp. ground Scotch Bonnet, Datil, -or- Habanero pepper (your choice of one, not all three, but the Datil works very well here; level to heaping tsp as you prefer) 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 

Mix dry ingredients. Store for use in any recipe calling for chili powder. 

Recipe #3: Saint Augustine Red 

The Datil pepper is mostly cultivated near St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuous European settlement in North America. (Older French settlements were destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores). This is a sauce that is close to a New Mexican red sauce, but much hotter. 

1 cup diced Roma tomatoes 
2 tsp New Mexican Red Pepper 
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp onion powder 
1/2 tsp Datil pepper, or more if more heat is desired 
4 cups beef broth 
1 TBSP flax seed meal (or 1 TBSP corn starch dissolved in water) 
Mexican Oregano, pinch 
Black pepper, pinch or to taste 
Salt to taste 

Cook tomatoes until they soften. Add peppers, cumin, garlic, and onion. Add broth, then bring to boil. Once boiling, add oregano. Boil until reduced by 1/4. 

Add flax seed or corn starch mix as a thickening agent. Cook until reduced to 1/2 from the original full measure. Remove from heat. Puree, if desired, while still hot as it will continue to thicken as it cools. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste. 

Bonus recipe: Red Tacos 

Take 1 pound of ground beef or other ground/shredded meat. Brown. Add 1/2 cup water, 1 TSP Grim's Red Chili Powder. Stir so that the meat is evenly coated before the water cooks out, while it can serve as a solvent to ensure coverage. 

Serve with warm tortillas, corn or flour as you prefer, or American taco shells. Top with diced onions, cilantro, and fresh-squeezed lime. Spoon Saint Augustine Red onto the tacos.  (The Drunken sauce is also good, but has a green rather than a red character.)


Anonymous said...

Hmm. I'm going to have to try the drunken pterodactyl sauce. I bet it is very good over pasta, perhaps with ground turkey or pork for the meat.


MikeD said...

I am GOING to try your chili powder for sure! And I may try the others as well, depending on how much I can get away with cooking for just myself (quarantine has meant more "family" meals for the bride and I as we're both home all day and meal prep can be a joint affair).

Thank you very much for thinking of me!