Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The It Pepper

If you've seen a Taco Bell ad, eaten at an "upscale Mexican" restaurant, or watched Bobby Flay's show in the past six months, you've no doubt noticed that chipotle has become the It chili pepper. The smoked jalapenos are hot, flavorful and just so fun to say out loud. "I'll have the chee-poat-lay smashed sweet potatoes, please!" Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

I happen to be a chipotle fan, and have been meaning to try a recipe for Chipotle-Cheddar Corn Muffins for months. The recipe is part of a lovely deck of recipes Uncle Marc gave us for Christmas. The muffins are chock full of goodies: cornmeal, buttermilk, honey, heavy cream, corn kernels, sharp cheddar cheese, and, of course, those chipotle chilis, along with the adobo sauce they are packed in. The sauce, made from tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt and spices, is pretty spicy itself, but it's a really nice spice, smoky and rich.

Fork picked up some soup at the newly reopened Havana Chelsea tonight, and the muffins were just coming out of the oven as we sat down to eat. The homey soup, made with beef, pork, yucca and other Caribbean vegetables, was a perfect prelude to the moist and delicious muffins. We split one after finishing the soup, me picking through to get the bits of spicy chipotle, Fork fishing around for the pepper-less parts (we're quite a pair, aren't we?). I wouldn't recommend these muffins for breakfast, unless you're eating huevos rancheros, and even then, brace yourself, because they are pretty darn hot. But as far as kicked up corn muffins go, these are perfecto.--S

Chipotle-Cheddar Corn Muffins

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 c sugar
1 t kosher salt
2 t baking powder
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1 c butter slightly
1 c buttermilk
1 T honey
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c frozen corn kernels, thawed
3/4 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 chipotle chilis, canned in adobo sauce, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 t adobo sauce
4 T melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two mini-muffin trays (or one regular-sized 12-muffin tray).
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey and cream.
4. Stir in flour mixture until incorporated. Stir in corn kernels, cheese, chipotles and adobo sauce. Stir in melted butter.
5. Spoon batter into muffin tins until each well is half full. Baked 12-14 minutes for mini-muffins, or 20-24 minutes for regular muffins, until golden and firm to the touch, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool slightly.
6. Run a thin knife around the sides of the muffins and unmold.

Recipe courtesy of The Sumptuous Small Plates Deck by Bibby Gignilliat

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