I did say there was one more chilli post! I think this has really been the most exciting discovery of the 2011 chilli season - home smoked paprika.
We'd decided that we wanted to have a crack at smoking and drying the ripe Hungarian Hot Wax chillis. I gave them a rinse (to get rid of clinging cat fur - a natural hazard in our conservatory) cut a slit in each one to help the smoke penetrate and the flesh dry out, then hot smoked them over beech smoking dust for an hour.
After smoking them, they had a lovely aroma, but they were still very fleshy and "wet" - not good for keeping. I laid them on baking parchment and dried them out in the lowest possible oven, turning them a couple of times, until they were thoroughly desiccated. I let them cool before packing them in a net and hanging them up - so that air could continue to circulate around them.
I cut the stem off one and ran it through the spice grinder, in order to do a direct comparison with commercial pimenton. Other than the texture, which wasn't as fine, and the colour, less of a vibrant red, ours was a definite winner. It had a richer, sweeter, smokier aroma (very much, in fact, like really good bacon) and a more well-rounded flavour with a subtle heat to it. The commercial pimenton had a slightly acrid note at the back of the throat. Ours really is lovely stuff.
We tend to use a lot of pimenton, so we've been using our own wherever we would normally use commercial pimenton. A whole, smoked chilli, deseeded and sliced, makes a glorious addition to Nigella's bacon and tomato hash. Served with an omelette stuffed generously with pesto.
Sprinkled onto potatoes rubbed with olive oil, strewn with garlic and fresh thyme, it makes pretty much the best roast spuds ever...
... and better yet with chicken thighs nestled into the spuds and also sprinkled with the wondrous powder. With Jamie Oliver's tomato and chorizo salad on the side. An utterly perfect combination.
We have also been using our own chillis whenever a recipe called for chipotles. I got this carne con chilli recipe from Kavey, although I used ox cheeks (and didn't sieve the sauce - it was too good to waste!). I used a mixture of bought ancho chillis and smoked and dried hot wax. Divine flavour. The first night we had it with green rice (made from Tommi Mier's recipe - according to the blogosphere the proportions in the recipe are wrong, but mine turned out perfectly) and the second the leftovers were rolled into enchiladas. Delicious and comforting. And very superior, due to my divine chillis, naturally.