I snagged all the end-of-the-season red chiles I could get my hands on at the farmers’ market a few weeks back. Red jalapeño, Espelette (a French [Basque] chile), Urfa Biber (a Turkish chile; I grew these in my garden), and a handful of chiles, which I suspect were cayenne.With an abundance of chiles, you can: 1) make hot sauce, 2) dry them, or, better still, 3) smoke them and dry them. I went with option three.
First off, you need some type of smoker and wood chips. I have an electric smoker, mostly for its ease of use. By no means hardcore, but it does the job. From there, you just need patience, lots and lots of patience. The key to smoking chiles is low and slow. I gave the chiles 10 to 12 hours in the smoker at 150 F. Once they’re fully dry and nice and smoky, you can store them whole or grind them into a powder using a spice grinder.
Now I have dried chiles to see me through the upcoming winter. I like to add a dash of smoky chile powder to harissa, homemade dried chile salsa, chili, or, well, just about anything and everything. I also used some to make a simple chile oil. Heat up some oil with a couple cloves of fresh garlic and then pour the hot garlicky oil over some smoked chile powder (a combination of Espelette and Urfa Briber). It’s got a really nice toasty, roasty umami flavor, which I drizzled judiciously over some avocado toast (see below).
Also smoked some almonds (for two hours), which I had simply tossed in a little olive oil and a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. They turned out really well, with just a hint of smokiness. Yum!
So, no specific recipe today. Rather, inspiration or an idea to tuck away for next summer/fall when chiles are back in season.
Avocado toast two-ways: one with a poached egg, the other with canned sardines, both drizzled with smoked chile oil.