Tag Archives: Ancho Chiles

Sopa seca de Fideo y Camarones

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Fideos (vermicelli) are much loved in Mexico, where they form the basis of thick, delicious soups. Usually the soups are served as a first course, but our hearty shrimp version is a meal in a bowl.

The name “sopa seca de fideo” translates to “dry soup with noodles”. It’s not soup, it’s called a “dry soup” because the noodles absorb all of the wonderful rich stock, making the noodles taste more delicious than you can possibly imagine.

Although it can be made with straight noodles, I have found if easier to make fideo with the twirled angel hair nests. It’s pretty, and easier to serve that way, one nest per individual  serving.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 dried ancho or pasilla chiles*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. dried angel hair nests or vemicelli
1/4 cup olive  oil
One medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 quart chicken broth
1 pound (30 to 35 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, tails left intact
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

For Serving:
1/2 cup sour cream
Queso Fresco
Diced avocado

Directions:
Break stems off chiles and shake out seeds. In a small bowl, cover chiles with hot water and let stand until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop.

Brown the angle hair nests: Choose a frying pan with a lid in which the angel hair nests will all tightly fit in a single layer (about 9 or 10-inches wide, depending on the brand of angel hair nests you use). In the pan, heat the oil until shimmering hot. Working in batches, fry the vermicelli angel hair nests on both sides in the hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove from pan.

Sauté onions and garlic, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in chiles. Add tomatoes, cumin seeds and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook angel hair nests in the broth. When broth is simmering, place the browned angel hair nests or vermicelli in a single layer in the pan, nestled into the broth. The nests should cover the whole pan. Turn them over in the broth so that they get moistened on all sides. Cover and cook until the vermicelli has soaked up the liquid, about 5 minutes.

If after 5 minutes the top of the vermicelli is dry, flip over the individual angel hair nests and cook a minute longer. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon soup into wide, shallow bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream and some avocado, if you like, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Cook’s Notes:
Vermicelli usually comes in 1 pound packages, so about 1/2 a package can be used for this recipe. If you cannot find angel hair nests at the market, you can make fideo with straight vermicelli pasta. Just break up the pasta in 3 to 4 inch long segments and cook the same way as you would the nests, browning them first in hot oil.

*Good dried chiles are soft, flexible, and smell a bit like prunes. Avoid hard, brittle specimens—they’re old and less flavorful.

How Hot Is Your Chile? To assess a chile’s heat, slice off its top through the ribs and seeds, where the heat-producing compound capsaicin is concentrated. Touch the slice to your tongue. If you want your food to be milder, split the chile and scrape out all or some of the ribs and seeds. If your skin is sensitive, wear kitchen gloves or hold the chiles with a fork—and don’t touch your eyes.

The trick to a great sopa seca de fideo is the chicken broth. If you do not have the time to make your own homemade chicken stock, you can easily use bouillon, boxed broth, and canned chicken stock. While bouillon and the boxes work in a pinch, nothing beats homemade stock for this recipe. It brings a richness that can’t be had any other way. So if you try it, I strongly urge you to use homemade stock!

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Chicken with Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole Sauce

Photo Credit: Williams-Sonoma, 2015

During October, the seasonal menu is filled with pumpkins and this classic Mexican sauce has a unique spin when combining pumpkin and almonds with cocoa, chiles, allspice berries, cloves and cinnamon. The mole sauce can be made ahead of time, and for a super-quick supper, simply combine the sauce with browned chicken thighs and then simmer. Dress up the dish with chunks of fresh pumpkin and crunchy pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) to create a beautiful yet easy one-pot dish that will turn heads at an autumn dinner party.

Chicken with Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole Sauce
(Pollo con Mole de Chile Ancho y Calabaza)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Pumpkin Mole:
1/2 white onion, peeled, charred
6 garlic cloves, charred, peeled
3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and opened
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 whole allspice berries
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cup)
3 cups chicken broth
Kosher, to taste
3 Tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder

Directions:
Place the onion and garlic in a baking sheet under the broiler. Char for 9 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between. Once they are soft and charred, remove from the heat. When the garlic is cool, peel.

In an already hot skillet or comal set over medium-low heat, toast the ancho chiles for about 15 to 20 seconds per side, until they brown and crisp without burning. Place toasted ancho chiles in a bowl covered with boiling water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes until they are plumped up and rehydrated.

In the same skillet, toast the cloves and all spice until aromatic, about a minute. Remove from the heat. Toast the almonds and cinnamon, stirring often, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the onion, garlic, chiles, 1/2 cup of chile soaking liquid, almonds, cloves, cinnamon and allspice in the blender and puree until smooth.

In a soup pot or casserole, heat the oil and pour the pureed mixture over medium heat. Add the salt, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to help prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The color will darken considerably.

Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth to the sauce. Stir well until the pumpkin puree has dissolved, it will have a silky consistency. Continue to cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using immediately set aside.

For the Chicken:
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
15 ounces pumpkin ancho chile mole sauce
1 lemon, quartered
2 cinnamon sticks for garnish
2 Tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions:
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pumpkin and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is slightly tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin pieces to a plate and set aside.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In the same pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and pour off the excess fat in the pan.

Return the chicken, skin side up, to the pan and add the simmer sauce. Return the pumpkin to the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with lemon quarters and cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro and serve immediately.