Mazano Chiles Steamed Like a Tamal: Diana Kennedy's Chile Canario en Pilte
Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Vegetarian
Manzano chiles are also known as Peron and apparently in Oaxaca, Canario. They look like habeneros but they have much more flesh and a less tropical, but no less delicious, flavor. They are powerful but not quite as humbling as a habanero. The seeds are black and shouldn't be eaten. I've fermented the chiles and they were incredible. Every time I look at Diana Kennedy's Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy I find something different. Her recipe for Chile Canario en Pilte is simple and completely new to me. From the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, it's easy to like, especially if you have access to yierbasanta. I've had banana leaves in my freezer for months, waiting for something to be done with them. A quick rinse under warm water made them pliable enough to cut and fold. A longer soak might have been better but I was impatient. Six manzano chiles were cut in quarters with the seeds removed. Diana calles for thinly sliced scallions but I had to do with onions cut into half moons. All is tossed with sea salt. On each banana leaf went several yierbasanta leaves (also known as hoja santa or acuyo, depending on where you are in Mexico) topped with the chile/onion mixture. The banana leaves are folded up into a nice rectangular package and then tied. This is a beautiful clay steamer from Los Reyes Metzontle. We import them as part of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Prjoect. I about plotzed when I first saw it. We now carry two sizes. The larger is better for a big tamal party and while at first I thought the smaller version would be kind of silly, it's the one I use more often, for steaming things like this and everyday vegetables as well. A banana leaf is placed on the bottom and then the packages are stacked up, ready for their sauna treatment. After about 35 or 40 minutes (probably less in a metal steamer), the aroma is heady. The chiles are soft and onions are infused with both the chile and the yierbasanta. There's nothing quite like it. I had made some blue corn tortillas and even stuffed some of them with refried black beans. This chile relish was perfect for them. Later at dinner, I made a simple pork tenderloin and thought to bring out the Chiles en pilte. All was fine until I hit a very hot one. The heat was unbelievable and I had to excuse myself for a moment. When I returned, I went back for more.