Kitchen Notes

Master Class: Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Earlier this week, we shared our recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate [link], and in the process of testing and drinking a few glasses, we decided we loved the flavors so much that we’d apply them to a pie (it is the week before Thanksgiving, after all).

This recipe is built off of a chocolate pie recipe from an old community cookbook we found in Texas. We love it for its ease (it’s a dump-and-stir deal), and consistent results. We kicked it up with the addition of chilies, vanilla and cinnamon, and a cornmeal crust that adds texture while giving a nod to the importance of cornmeal in Mexican cooking.

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Cider Bourbon Cocktail

 The fruity flavor of the aji amarillo syrup picks up on the sweetness of the bourbon in this refreshing cocktail. 

In a rocks glass, combine bourbon, syrup, and lemon. Add ice, top with cider beer and garnish with maraschino cherry. Enjoy.  

Pork Chops with Aji-Pepita Chimichurri

Pork chops love the round sweetness of fruit (think about all the pork chops with apples or pears that you’ve had in your life), making the aji amarillo pepper, known for its compelling fruitiness, a perfect match. Here, the pepper contributes in two forms: first, whole dried peppers are rehydrated to add richness and sweet, berry-like acidity to a pepita-based chimichurri sauce. Then ground aji amarillo is used in place of plain black pepper to season the chops before they hit the pan.

Serves 4

  • 2 dried aji amarillo chili peppers
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup each flat leaf parsley, mint, and cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ lemon, cut into quarters and seeds removed
  • 2 bone-in pork chops, 1½ inches thick
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground aji amarillo pepper
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Preheat the oven to 450°. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook them.

Place the chilies in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes, until the chilies have softened.

In a skillet over medium heat, toast the pepitas until they begin to sizzle and pop and darken slightly in color, about 4 minutes.

Place the pepitas, herbs, garlic, lemon pieces (with the rind and all), rehydrated chiles and ¼ cup of the chili liquid in a blender. With the motor running, add ¾ cup canola oil in a drizzle and blend until the mixture has formed a smooth puree. Pour into a bowl and season to taste with salt.

Season the pork chops liberally on both sides with salt and the ground aji amarillo. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork chops and cook without moving for 2 minutes, or until a nice golden sear has formed. Flip the chops and sear another 2 minutes on the other side. Reduce the heat to medium. Flip the chops again and cook for about 3 minutes more. Flip the chops once more and transfer to the oven. Let cook between 5 and 8 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 135°. Transfer the chops to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes (they will continue to cook as they rest).

Douse each chop with a bit of the chimichurri, plus more alongside for those who’d like extra. This dish would be great alongside rice or roasted potatoes. Extra chimichurri will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator (though it will begin to discolor slightly after 1 day).

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The Chili Pepper Field Guide is a growing knowledge base exploring the diverse flavors of chili peppers from around the world. We welcome your thoughts and content suggestions via email or social media using hashtag #chililab

The Aji Amarillo Chili Pepper

 

This enchanting pepper hails from South America--most recognizably from Peru, where it is the go-to chili for traditional recipes. When fresh, the chili is bright yellow in color (thus, the name) and frequently made into a paste to flavor sauces and stews.

Sourcing: Most Latin markets will have dried whole aji amarillo chilies or aji amarillo paste. You can also find them in specialty online markets like this one.

Storing: Whole dried chilies should be kept sealed in an airtight container and free of moisture. Aji amarillo paste should be refrigerated after opening.


Pairing:

  • Pineapple
  • Pork
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Coconut
  • Lamb
  • Broccoli

Our Recipes:

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    The Chili Pepper Field Guide is a growing knowledge base exploring the diverse flavors of chili peppers from around the world. We welcome your thoughts and content suggestions via email or social media using hashtag #chililab