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Swift and Simple Cooking with Chile Pastes

Fine Cooking Issue 48

I love the flavor of dried chiles, but I don’t cook with them as often as I’d like because of the time it takes to seed, toast, rehydrate, and purée them. But now that I’ve discovered a line of chile pastes from the Terra Sol Chile Company in Texas, I don’t have that excuse. These all-natural pastes are made from pure chile purée, balanced with a little sugar, salt, and citric acid. They come in ten varieties and are ready to go; all you have to do is unscrew the lid. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to a year. The chipotle paste is great for adding a smoky kick to a pot of chili, and you can whip up a quickie harissa (Tunisian hot sauce) with the New Mexico paste. I even made a remarkably good red enchilada sauce in about thirty minutes flat by thinning a mixture of the ancho paste, the New Mexico paste, and some tomato paste with chicken broth and then simmering this blend with some fried onion, garlic, and cumin. If time allows, I’ll still toast and purée my own dried chiles for authenticity’s sake, but in a pinch, these pastes are really convenient. A 4-ounce jar costs about $8. Call 512/836-3525 for the location of a store near you, or to order a case of twelve jars, which can be a mix of varieties. For more info, visit www.terrasolfoods.com.

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