Chile Con Oplye (Hemp Seed Chile)
I somehow got by for years and years without making chile. I use chiles in all kinds of things, of course, and I make beans in some form almost every week in the winter, but somehow chile itself was something I’d always get around to later. Maybe I thought it was too much of a vegetarian cliché. I am more easily intimidated about these things than you might guess.
It turns out that chile is wonderful stuff, especially if you follow the advice of the eternal Deborah Madison and roast and grind your own chile powder. No, really; it is easy, and wow, you get bright orange and purple whirlpools of flavor.
This was my first experience with epazote, an herb about which many folks I know are endlessly enthusiastic. It is lovely alongside the chiles and oregano if you are able to find it. What makes this chile so amazing? Is it the pasilla? The epazote? Could it possibly be the hemp seeds? Perhaps I should explain that this recipe takes its whimsical name from the Yiddish word for hemp: קאָנאָפּליע konoplye.
For the beans:
1 ½ cups dried pinto beans
2 dried red chiles, such as chicostles
2 bay leaves
3 whole garlic cloves
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ bunch epazote, if you have some
2 teaspoons salt
For the chile:
1 pasilla chile
1 chipotle chile
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne, or more, to taste
1 ½ cups hemp seeds
olive oil, or other oil (be liberal)
2 cups diced onions
7 whole garlic cloves
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 ½ cups diced celery
1 ½ cups diced bell peppers
4 poblano chiles (optional)
minced leaves from 1 sprig epazote, if you have some
5 medium tomatoes (a generous 2 pounds)
Cover the beans with water and soak for four hours or overnight. Drain the beans and put them in a pot or a slow-cooker with the chiles, bay leaves, garlic, cumin seeds, epazote, salt, and water to cover. Cook until the beans are tender. This may take one or two hours. Remove the chile pods, bay leaves, and epazote stems.
Roast the pasilla and chipotle chile in the oven at 375 for about five minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, tear them up and grind to a powder in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling chiles! Toast the cumin seeds in a cast iron skillet for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the oregano and stir for a few seconds more, and then add the paprika and cayenne and remove from heat. Grind the cumin mixture in the grinder and set aside with the chile powder. Put the hemp seeds in the skillet, and toast them, stirring constantly, to a light golden color. Char the poblanos under the broiler, and steam them in a bag until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, stems, and seeds, and chop the peppers. Scald the tomatoes and remove the skins and seeds. Chop the tomatoes roughly.
Heat oil in a wide pot and add the onions. When the onions become translucent, add the garlic, carrots, celery, and diced peppers. Cook another twenty minutes or so, and when the vegetables are tender, add the ground herbs and spices and the hemp seeds. Stir and cook a few minutes and add the tomatoes and poblanos, and then the cooked beans with their broth. Cook and stir until the beans are quite done. Add salt as needed. Ah, I have no words! You just have to try this.
Other things you should try are to be found at Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Scott at Real Epicurean.