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The Colour Red

Dear Tooting & Balham Foodies,

I hope all is well –

Well, we’ve made our first proper step out of lockdown, and the weather has reacted perfectly! What a glorious day! The common was busy with lots of small groups with lots of big smiles on their faces.

After a week of due to Covid jabs, which did prove to be the right decision as we were laid out for a couple of days, we are back for the Easter weekend. We’ve changed it up slightly with Friday being a bank holiday, and decided to cook things off with a Tex-Mex extravaganza. Mexican food is popular and easily found in the southern US, and makes up the back bone of regional cuisine in places like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as several other states This is from the fact that these territories were in fact part of Mexico until the Mexican Cessation of 1848 following the Santa Anna’s defeat in the Mexican-American War that was caused by the US annexation of Texas in 1845. In more modern times, this has been helped along by long established immigration patterns as workers pushed into the deep south during post-civil war reconstruction, working on farms and plantations, and of course bringing their food with them. Tamales are now positively Mississippian! It is thus no surprise that Mexican influenced food is just as popular and authentic both sides of the Rio Grande!

This week we’re cooking a beautiful Mexican feast, with the main event being the a Pork Chilli Colorado, as well as some stunning sides that really complement this. It’d be easy to fall into a trap here and think that this is a dish that hails from the state of the same name, but you’d be wrong! This dishes name simply translates from the Spanish as “Coloured Red”, which is exactly what this beautiful plate of food looks like. If you are wondering, the state gets its name from the river of the same name, which is named after the colour of the waters from its high silt content. Anyways, back to the food. The Chilli gets its colouring from the large number of dried chillies that are used. We use a mix of sweet and mild Ancho, liquoricey passilla, berry-like guaijilo and smoky chipotle. These are soaked before being pulverised to form a loose paste and then added to browned pork shoulder, cumin and some herbs.

All the flavouring in this dish comes from the chillies, and unlike what most would think of as being an essential in their chilli con carne, there is not a tomato in sight. It’s therefore a really great way to appreciate the flavour of these beautiful fruits rather than just simply using them to provide a surgical strike of heat. The end results is something truly pleasing, heart-warming and soulful. It is fruity, with hints of chocolate and raisin, with a deep earthy soul and is just simply different to any spicy food that you have eaten before. As the chilli uses dried red chillies, it is seen as a winter dish, when there are less unripened fresh chillies around, for dishes like Chilli Verde.

It's up there as one of my favourite things that I have cooked over this year, and. This is top quality eating!

Thanks for your support as always and I look forward to cooking for you all!


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