GAIN INSPIRATION FROM THE OPEN ROAD
My new bumper sticker: I brake for chiles!
One of my favorite parts of traveling is stopping at local markets to see what's in season. When traveling aboard, open air markets are my favorite destination - seeing baskets of fresh herbs and spices, fruit laid out on blankets and the different (ie. often questionable) storage techniques for raw meats. But a road trip can be almost as inspiring for the kitchen as a journey oversees - all it takes is seeing your own country, and all its diverse nooks and crannies, in its own light.
This May, we jumped in our new Prius (who was aptly named on this trip, Meatball, after a particularly rainy meal camping) and headed south, and then east a bit, to the beautiful Southwest. We ate a lot of meals from our cooler, but that didn't stop us from poking around some shops in St. George, Utah and sampling pastries at a German bakery in Orderville. As we drove south, nearly to Mexico, we make sure to veer off the road in Tucson to try some tiny tacos, topped only with maybe a cilantro leaf and plenty of grease. And, to be sure we were getting a real and authentic experience, we did our best to give fair attention to the art of the margarita.
As we headed home, tired and poor Meatball plenty dusty, we knew we couldn't leave the state of Arizona without a bag full of chiles. We stopped a large market as we passed through Phoenix, and took in the smells of chicharron and heaps of hibiscus on display. We grabbed a bag of dry, red chiles of medium spice and were thrilled to find fresh green chiles - exactly what we were looking for. These chiles, grow in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, are the state vegetable as well as its signature crop. They grow both red and green varieties in the Hatch Valley, and the green chile it turns out is also called an Anaheim pepper, easily found at markets here in San Francisco.
We came home, unpacked, and a couple days later made enchiladas with the green chiles - taking us back to Arizona and the open road.
I really went for it with these enchiladas, making both a green chile sauce (from our friends over at Mission Community Market!), as well as a pepper jack cheese sauce, and stuffed each enchilada with some leftover roast chicken, early season corn, and more roasted chiles. This sauce is bright and smokey and has just the right amount of spice. After some lackluster enchilada cooking in my life, I found the key to these was dipping each tortilla in a bit of broth before I stuffed it, leading to a richer and more tender enchilada.
Roasted (Hatch) Anaheim Chile Sauce!