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Have you had your Padrons today?

Not that long ago, the Padron chile was a delicacy found primarily at tapas bars and restaurants in Spain. Now the Padron and its cousin, the shishito, are everywhere, and we have an obligation to do our part, which is to enjoy them.

From sometime in June or July, when they first appear at farmers markets and on restaurant menus, until late October or November, they are one of the simplest and most delicious appetizers possible.

Padrons are really easy to prepare at home. All you do is fry them in a bit of olive oil, tip them onto a plate and add a little coarse salt. Simple embellishments like a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a pool of aioli or a mound of burrata gussies up the chiles deliciously, but it's gilding the lily, welcome but not essential.

All manner of chiles are at our farmers markets right now, from sweet colorful bells to unfamiliar varieties like the carrot chiles that Triple T Farms has. They are said to be great with fish, but I haven't tried them yet. I've been too busy enjoying Padrons.

There are fresh cayennes, haba?ros, gypsies, Anaheims and many other less familiar varieties. Poblanos, a longtime favorite, are beautiful this year, big, firm and deeply colored.

The Hatch chile is one of the newest darlings of the foodie set, and I've been reading about it all over the place. It's an Anaheim chile grown near Hatch, New Mexico, hence the name. But it's the same chile grown through New Mexico, although it is typically much hotter than those grown in California soil.

This year, locally grown jalape?s and serranos are not showing a lot of heat, though their flavors are excellent. Soon, once these and a few other varieties are fully red ripe, they will be smoked, dried and ground for chipotle powder and other similar products, which will get us through winter and spring with spicy deliciousness. Once difficult to come by, chipotle powder is now available from several local producers. You'll read about it here when the 2013 batch is ready.

For now, it is time to celebrate fresh chiles, get ready for Halloween pozole and, if you're so inclined, freeze some roasted chiles for soups and stews until the season begins again next year.


For years, I've been searching for the perfect green chile sauce, one without tomatillos and cumin, which most have. It needs to have the exact right blend of flavors and the proper texture, neither too thin nor too thick. This one is the closest I have come in my own kitchen, and I'm currently making my third batch in as many weeks. I've enjoyed it simply, on top of steamed rice; as a condiment with pork, chorizo, steak and shrimp tacos; as a sauce for cheese enchiladas and queso fundido; and with Mexican-style beans and rice. It is an excellent all purpose sauce.

<b>Poblano, Serrano and Onion Sauce</b>

<em>Makes about 1 quart</em>

8 to 10 poblanos, seared, peeled and seeded (see Note below)

1 to 5 green serranos or jalape?s, seared, peeled and seeded (see Note below)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

Kosher salt

Juice of 1 to 2 limes

3 cups homemade chicken stock

1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed, chopped</i>

First, prepare the poblanos, serranos and jalape?s if you have not already done so. Cut the poblanos into medium julienne and the other chiles into small julienne. Set them aside.

Pour the olive oil into a medium saute pan or saucepan, set over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute until limp and fragrant, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more.

Season with salt, add the chiles, stir and pour in the lime juice and chicken stock. Simmer gently for about 7 minutes, until the flavors come together; remove from the heat before the chiles begin to soften too much and fall apart.

Let cool slightly, taste and correct for salt. Stir in the cilantro.

Use immediately or cool and refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 5 days. Reheat before serving.


As fall sets in and nights grow cool, we want soup. Many of us want to make it, as the process is almost as delicious as the enjoyment of eating it. When you have roasted chiles in your freezer, it doesn't take long to make this luscious soup, but even if you don't, it's not difficult or time consuming. If you like, serve a pile of fried Padrons alongside; they are yummy swirled in the soup and the crema.

<b>Poblano and Potato Soup with Radish Crema</b>

<em>Makes 4 to 6 servings</em>

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 or 2 serranos or jalape?s, seeded and minced

Kosher salt

2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3 1/2 cups)

4 cups homemade chicken stock

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

5 or 6 large poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche,

3 or 4 medium radishes, cut into small dice

1 lime, in wedges

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Monterey jack cheese, grated

Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan set over medium low heat, add the onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and serranos or jalape?s and saute 2 minutes more.

Season with salt.

Add the potatoes, stock, oregano and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the poblanos and simmer 5 minutes more.

While the soup cooks, put the crema or creme fraiche into a small bowl, add the radishes, season with salt and stir. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime wedge and half the cilantro, stir well, taste and correct for salt. Set aside.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or pass it through a food mill into a clean pot. If it seems too thick, thin with a little water and heat through. Stir in the cheese, taste and correct for salt.

Ladle into soup bowls, top each portion with a dollop of the radish creme and a bit of the remaining cilantro, and serve immediately, with lime wedges alongside.

<i>Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1FM. Email Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.</i>

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