Category Archives: Hot Sauce

Pollo Asado~ Smoky Chicken Tostadas

I cannot tell you all how happy I am to see that spring has finally arrived in New York state! It was the coldest and longest winter I have ever experienced here in 29 years….lol! So, every sunny day, which have not been many, I try to schedule some grilling time. On this day, we grilled a few foods and then we put some dry rubbed chicken thighs on for a low and slow smoke. It was pitch black night time, but there we were doing our thing, ha, ha, ha! This recipe is really a no fuss recipe if you ask me. We enjoyed the chicken as is  for a few days and then with the last two pieces, I prepared some tostadas with our grilled and smoked salsa and hot sauce. So here’s to a great grilling season, a warm spring and a hot summer! Ok, maybe not so hot… #girlongrill #chilehead

 

Smoked Chicken/Pollo Asado

Smoked and Grilled Chicken

8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 4 1/2 pounds)
4 to 5 tablespoons Weber Brand Carne Asada Seasoning or your favorite spice rub
Oil for brushing onto grill grates

Directions

1. Generously add carne asada seasoning/spice rub all over chicken, making sure you get some under the skin on top. Use your hands to rub it into the chicken. Place in baking pan with cover or heavy plastic storage back. Marinate overnight.

2. Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Set up your grill for indirect grilling at a temperature of 250 degrees F. If you want to add some smoky flavor, add a few applewood chunks near the hot coals 5 minutes before adding chicken. Or if cooking on gas grill add wood chips to a smoker box. Close lid for a few minutes.

3. Brush grates on cool side with oil. Add the chicken, skin side up on cool side of the grill. Close lid and cook for about 2 hours or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. Pull off the chicken as it reaches the desired temperature. When done, transfer chicken to a dish, cover loosely and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Yields 4 servings.

Tips~ Oven method for chicken. In a large oven safe skillet, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. After a few minutes, add the chicken, skin side down and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn skin side up, cover pan and finish roasting in a preheated 350  degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.

This has to be my absolute favorite way to cook and eat chicken thighs.
This has to be my absolute favorite way to cook and eat chicken thighs.

 

Smoky Chicken Tostadas

Smoky Chicken Tostadas with Smoked Pico de Gallo, Grilled Chile Pepper Sauce and Sauteed Peppers
Smoky Chicken Tostadas with  Avocado, Smoked Pico de Gallo, Grilled Chile Pepper Sauce and Sauteed Peppers

2 smoked chicken thighs, remove meat and shred

1 avocado, mashed
Lime juice
Salt to taste
4 tostadas
Smoked Pico de Gallo
Grilled Chile hot sauce
Sauteed sweet and hot peppers

After mashing the avocado, add a little lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the avocado onto 4 tostadas. Add chicken, smoked pico de gallo, sauteed peppers and grilled chile pepper sauce. I would add creamy black beans or pinto beans next time!

I love the colors that my camera on my phone picks up compared to the digital camera.
I love the colors that my camera on my phone picks up compared to the digital camera.
My favorite picture!
My favorite picture!

Smoky Chicken Tostadas

Smoked/Grilled  Pico de Gallo

Just a little smoke from some applewood chunks add such great flavor!
Just a little smoke from some applewood chunks add such great flavor!

8 roma tomatoes
3 large jalapeños
3 serranos
2 habaneros
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 small sweet onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

When it's time to use up excess produce, I like to prepare these salsa recipes on my charcoal grill. The flavors are a mazing
When it’s time to use up excess produce, I like to prepare these salsa recipes on my charcoal grill. The flavors are amazing
I know you will think I am crazy, but when I have time, I like to chop my salsa ingredients by hand. Sometimes they can get a bit muddled in the blender or food processor. But that's up to you.
I know you will think I am crazy, but when I have time, I like to chop my salsa ingredients by hand. Sometimes they can get a bit muddled in the blender or food processor. But that’s up to you.

 

Cut the top of the garlic bulb off before grilling. Grill ingredients on the idirect heat side of the grill for 45 to 60 minutes at 250 degrees F. I added a couple of applewood chunks so the salsa would have a smoked flavor. Let ingredients cool. Remove stems from peppers and peel garlic or if it’s soft enough, squeeze out into the blender or processor. Roughly chop ingredients and pulse to process or you can chop the ingredients by hand.I do this so I can add exact amounts that I want when mixing the salsa’s or chile sauce.  Add lime juice, salt and pepper. Fold in the cilantro.

Smoked/Grilled Pico de Gallo

 

Grilled Chile Pepper Hot Sauce

Preparing the salsa/hot sauce this way will preserve it for a few months in the refrigerator.
Preparing the salsa/hot sauce this way will preserve it for a few months in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

3 large jalapeños
3 fresno peppers
3 serranos
2 habaneros
1 whole bulb of garlic, top cut off and wrapped in foil
1 small sweet onion, quartered
Juice of 2 key limes
1 3/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
salt to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

The Red Fresno Chile Peppers are the only ones I have to peel when I grill them for salsa. The skins become tough to chew otherwise.
The Red Fresno Chile Peppers are the only ones I have to peel when I grill them for salsa. The skins become tough to chew otherwise.
Preparing your own hot sauce at home is much mor e economical
Preparing your own hot sauce at home is much more economical

Directions

1. Grill the peppers, onion and garlic on indirect heat for 1 hour. let cool. Remove stems from peppers and skins from garlic. Remove skins from fresno peppers as well because the skin may be hard to chew.

2. Roughly chop ingredients and transfer to the blender. Add the lime juice, vinegar and water. Pulse to blend as coarse or as smooth as you like. I like the pieces of peppers, garlic and onions in my hot sauce.

3. Transfer to a saucepan. Heat to medium. Season with salt to taste. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat slightly. Whisk the cornstarch and water together until smooth. Add to hot sauce in saucepan. Stir well to combine and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cilantro.

Grilled Chile Pepper Hot Sauce

El Molcajete~ Salsa, Guacamole and Spices

For Years I thought that the molcajete was one of those many decorations that tourist would purchase on their trips to Mexico. I did not realize that you could actually use it for preparing meals. Until one day I walked in to my abuelita’s kitchen and sat watching her grind spices for that evenings dinner. The aromas are amazing and nothing like you would ever experience from store bought spices. Every Mexican family has that special molcajete that is passed down from generation to generation. My oldest sister still uses my Mom’s molcajete in her own kitchen. Right below is a picture of my abuelitas molcajete, still in Mexico, still in use today….

El Molcajete de mi Abuelita
El Molcajete de mi Abuelita

Salsa Picante de Chile Piquin/Limon. Chile piquin, fresh, dried or pickled holds a very special place in my heart. I associate it with my many trips to Monterrey, Mexico when I was still living at home. My abuelito Ismael was a smart and succesful business man and planned for his large family. Each brother and sister had a special piece of land that was purchased for them to build their future homes on when the time came. My abuelo also owned this big ranch in Higueras, N.L. and I specifically remember the plants filled with aromatic oregano and chile pepper bushes with bright green chile piquin. Just like the salt and pepper shakers on the table, there was always a small bowl with assorted shades from bright green to deep red colored fresh chile piquin on the kitchen table. As kids we would dare one another to eat them while enjoying the wonderful homestyle dinners that my abuelita would cook for us. Perhaps this is where I first learned to love eating spicy foods. Fresh chile piquin is hard to come by, unless you live in or near Mexico or in a well stocked Hispanic market in the states. I was lucky enough to purchase several bags of the dried version on various trips I have made to Texas and North Carolina. A well seasoned and polished molcajete is one of the best tools in my Mexican kitchen.

Polishing the molcajete with some coarse sea salt
Polishing the molcajete with some coarse sea salt right before using it for this recipe. I originally polished and seasoned it with uncooked rice and that worked well too. Lightly wash in between uses.

Ingredients
For Chile Piquin /Limon Salsa
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons dried chile piquin
2 cloves garlic with the skins on
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 2 limes
1/3 cup light olive oil

Directions

1. Heat a comal or skillet to medium/low heat. Add the peppercorns, cumin seeds, oregano, piquin and garlic. Toast, stirring often until herbs, chile and garlic become aromatic, about 5 minutes. Remove the spices and chiles and transfer to molcajete. Continue cooking the garlic for another 5 to 7 minutes until softened. Remove skins and set aside.

2. To the molcajete mixture, add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Using the pestle of the molcajete, grind down all of the ingredients as fine as you can. Add the garlic, another pinch of salt and grind into the mixture until a paste forms. Add the fresh lime juice, whisk in the olive oil. Taste for salt. Serve in molcajete.

3. If you do not have a molcajete, you can use a regular mortar and pestle or spice grinder to process the dry ingredients. To finish the sauce, you could whisk all together or add all ingredients to a tightly sealed mason jar and shake until well combined. The flavors will improve with time. Keep stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. I like to use this salsa  to finish garnishing my favorite tacos or guacamole recipes.

Just these few, simple ingredients, chile piquin, cumin seeds, mexican oregano, peppercorns and garlic. The beginnings of something good!
Just these few, simple ingredients, chile piquin, cumin seeds, mexican oregano, peppercorns and garlic. The beginnings of something good!
I use my mexican comal, but I like lining it with easy release foil for toasting and roasting on the stove top. Makes it much easier to remove the spices.
I use my mexican comal, but I like lining it with easy release foil for toasting and roasting on the stove top. Makes it much easier to remove the spices.
Toasted Chiles, Spices and Roasted Garlic all Ready for the Molcajete
Toasted Chiles, Spices and Roasted Garlic all Ready for the Molcajete
The aromas of the ground spices and chile piquin are amazing!
The aromas of the ground spices and chile piquin are amazing!
Adding a pinch of salt helps with the grinding process. Here I am adding the garlic..
Adding  salt helps with the grinding process. Here I am adding the garlic..
Chile Piquin/Limon Salsa de Molcajete. Serve straight out of the molcajete.
Chile Piquin/Limon Salsa de Molcajete. Serve straight out of the molcajete.
Chile Piquin/Limon Salsa de Molcajete
Chile Piquin/Limon Salsa de Molcajete

 

For Guacamole
1 large ripe avocado
2 large roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup pickled red onions, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

*Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

 For Guacamole de Molcajete: Transfer the chile piquin salsa to a serving dish. In that same molcajete(do not clean out), add chile serrano and a pinch of salt. Grind down until minced into a paste. Add the avocado and gently mash until desired consistency. Fold in the tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Serve as is or drizzle some of the chile piquin salsa on top before serving.

In that same molcajete from the chile piquin salsa, continue to build flavors for the guacamole.
In that same molcajete from the chile piquin salsa, continue to build flavors for the guacamole.
Adding a perfectly ripe avocado, a gentle smash, perfect guacamole.
Adding a perfectly ripe avocado, a gentle smash, perfect guacamole.
In many restaurants in Mexico they serve up the guacamole this way. This allows you to add in your favorite ingredients.
In many restaurants in Mexico they serve up the guacamole this way. This allows you to add in your favorite ingredients.
Guacamole de Molcajete
Guacamole de Molcajete, drizzled with Chile Piquin/Limon Salsa
Guacamole de Molcajete
Guacamole de Molcajete

 

 

Dried Chiles~ Staples of a Mexican Kitchen

For as far back as I can remember, there were a few”must have” staples  in my Mom’s kitchen. Tomatoes, fresh chiles, onions, cilantro and a variety of dried chile peppers. What, no garlic? People are surprised when I tell them how fresh garlic was not used in my mom’s everyday cooking  as they had imagined. The fresh garlic was reserved for cooking frijoles or caldos (soups). I always assumed that it was because she was too busy raising eight kids, she did not have time to mince garlic, lol! Of course there was always that jar of garlic powder in the cupboard for guisados and rice. Since those days, I have learned to cook with fresh garlic and lots of it. One thing that was a constant was that storage container with half torn plastic bags of dried chile peppers, such as chile ancho and chile de arbol. The chile ancho was must for tamales, chile colorado and costillas de puerco. And with tamales, came the salsa de tomatillo, prepared spicy with the added chile de arbol.  For this blog post today, I want to share some pictures of the dried chiles I keep in my kitchen. Besides the few dishes I mentioned above, you can prepare a variety of sauces and salsa’s using the dried chiles. For the first entry, I prepared a spicy salsa recipe that was inspired and adapted from a bottle of hot sauce from my favorite Mexican chef Rick Bayless. It’s a Toasted Chile Salsa, which also includes toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and ajonjoli (sesame seeds). I have prepared many dried chile recipes and will add a few new ones to this post every month.

Dried chiles can be used in everyday dishes to add a little heat and rich red colors!
Dried chiles can be used in everyday dishes to add a little heat and rich red colors!

 

Toasted Chile Salsa

1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup ajonjoli (sesame seeds)
24 chile de arbol, stems removed
2 chile guajillo
1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 key lime
salt to taste

 

Toasted Chile Salsa with pumpkin, sesame seeds, oregano
Toasted Chile Salsa with pumpkin, sesame seeds, oregano

 

1. Preheat a comal or griddle pan to medium/low heat for 5 minutes. Add all the chiles, pepitas and ajonjoli to the comal or griddle. When toasting chiles, seeds or nuts, you should never leave unattended because they can burn easily. Toast them for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning as needed. 

2. When the peppers become aromatic and blacken in some spots, they are ready. the sesame seeds and pepitas will also turn slightly brown in color.If you let any of them go too long, they will taste bitter. Before removing ingredients from comal, add the oregano for a minute. 

3. Transfer all of the ingredients to the blender. Add all of the remaining ingredients listed. Blend on high until smooth. You will have to psh ingredients down with a spatula a couple of times to make sure it all blends well. Taste for salt. If you want to thin out the salsa a little more, just add a little more water.

Dried chiles, herbs,nuts and seeds are all essential to an authentic Mexican kitchen.
Dried chiles, herbs,nuts and seeds are all essential to an authentic Mexican kitchen.

 

Salsa Ranchera Estilo La Costeña. I remember going home to L.A. and trips to the Giant Dollar store. Mom would purchase at least 10 jars of La Costeña brand Salsa Ranchera. Not many store bought brands she liked, but this one was delicious! This is my version of the Salsa Ranchera but with chile de arbol instead of jalapeños.

Salsa Ranchera

6 tomatillos, peeled and washed
4 chile ancho
12 to 24 chile de arbol depending on your heat level.
4 cloves garlic
1/4 of a white onion
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

*If using the fresh jalapeño, I would start with at least  4 to 5

Salsa Ranchera

Tips~For my version of this salsa, I prefer to use chile de arbol. I believe the bottled version they use jalapeños.

Salsa RancheraNot the best time for foods photos, in the evening…

Directions

1. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile ancho and just the stems from chile de arbol.

2. Add all of the ingredients, minus the oregano, cumin and salt, to a pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes.

3. Drain the water and transfer to the blender. Add the oregano, cumin and salt to taste. Blend on high until smooth.

Salsa Ranchera

Chile de Arbol
Chile de Arbol is my favorite, go to pepper for many of my salsa recipes. It pairs well with tomatillos!

2Salsa Ranchera

 

Toasted Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce, a variation that is prepared with   mostly vinegar and water. I learned how to prepare an Asian style chile sauce a few years back and this is the same method I used to prepare this recipe. I did not add any sugar, but you most certainly can if you like it sweet and spicy. Besides just enjoying it as a hot sauce, I use this as a base for a spicy marinade on seafood or chicken with a little added oil , citrus and more garlic.

Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce. The vinegar will preserve this chile sauce for a few months.
Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce. The vinegar will preserve this chile sauce for a few months. The charred tomatillos gives this hot sauce a nice finish.



1/4 pound of Chile de arbol
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
4 roasted tomatillos (I char them on the stove top in a little oil)
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste…I used about 5 teaspoons
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water to make a slurry

1. Toast the chile de arbol in a skillet and medium/low heat for a few minutes. Turn it often so it does not burn. You will have some dark spots and it will become aromatic. Remove from heat and transfer to the blender.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the blender, minus the cornstarch slurry. Blend on high until mostly smooth.

3. Transfer hot sauce to saucepan and heat to medium. As soon as it comes to a low simmer, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Stir well to combine and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Taste for salt. Let cool completely at room temperature before storing in an airtight container. It will keep in refrigerator for a few months.

Toasting the chile de arbol adds a nice smoky flavor. They toast quickly. I remove them from the heat as soon as they become aromatic.
Toasting the chile de arbol adds a nice smoky flavor. They toast quickly. I remove them from the heat as soon as they become aromatic.

 

Salsa de Aceite Estilo las Carretas~ Oil Based Chile de Arbol Salsa

I have prepared this style of salsa before many times, but really did not know the true name for it, lol! The other day while browsing through youtube, I came across a food video in Spanish and there it was! I like to add some vinegar to mine for that hint of acid that I love so much.

Salsa de Chile de Arbol con Aceite
1/2 cup oil, I used an olive oil and  canola blend, plus 1/4 cup separate

1/4 pound chile de arbol, stems removed

5 chile New Mexico or guajillos, stems and seeds removed
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup cider vinegar, or more to taste
Salt to taste
*more oil if needed

Chile de Arbol and Garlic steeped in oil for salsa
Chile de Arbol and Garlic steeped in oil for salsa

1. In a pan, combine the 1/2 cup oil, chile de arbol, new mexico peppers and garlic. Bring up to temperature at medium heat. When the peppers become aromatic, lower heat and stir often. You want the peppers to become bright red and slightly soft. Do not let them get dark or they will be bitter. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Transfer chile/oil mixture to the blender, add vinegar, another 1/4 cup oil and salt to taste. Pulse to blend, adding more oil if it’s too thick. Yields about 2 cups.

Salsa de Aceite Estilos las Carretas
Salsa de Aceite Estilos las Carretas

 

Chile Japones
Chile Japones is very similar to chile de arbol, a good substitute when chile de arbol is not available

 

Chile Pequin
Chile Pequin is one of my favorites, hard to find, spicy, adds great flavor and heat!

 

Chile Ancho
Chile Ancho is the pepper commonly found in most dark chili powders, mild most of the time.

 

Chiles New Mexico, California and Guajillos are very similar
Chiles New Mexico, California and Guajillos are very similar and mild, but add a great vibrant red color

 

Chile Pasilla tends to be one of the darkest in color
Chile Pasilla tends to be one of the darkest in color.

 

Chile Chipotle adds some good heat and smoky flavors to your recipes
Chile Chipotle adds some good heat and smoky flavors to your recipes