UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 64

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We work and dwell in the chilli industry and we love it. Being part of Clifton Chilli Club means that we get to travel the UK and beyond immersing ourselves further in to the environment we adore. Sometimes we are employed to provide informative talks about chillies (growing, varieties, cooking with etc) and, on other occasions, we are asked to run competitions involving the consumption of chilli, most commonly being in the form of a chilli eating competition.

If you’ve never heard of us or visited our YouTube channel, pop over to it at some point and watch some of the rock n roll we bring to food festivals. Some of our eating competitions have millions of views! However, whilst the competitions are what we are most well-known for, our knowledge of chillies runs deep and we love to talk about them and especially cook with them.

Over the years, we’ve been to a number of BBQ orientated events and festivals. There seems to be a slight cross over between chilli and BBQ and it’s something we really enjoy. Often at these events, we witness some masterful chefs design and cook some incredible meat dishes that show off the versatility of the humble BBQ. “It’s all about fire control.” was a comment we heard whilst watching a BBQ masterclass at Powderham Food Festival this year. That comment rang true to us as it’s something we sometimes say about chillies!

We’ve made some friends in the BBQ world over the past few years and a number of them are now turning to us for advice on which chillies to use with various cuts of meat and complimentary ingredients. There was once a point in the UK when ‘chilli’ was nothing more than ground cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce or cayenne chilli flakes. Hardly exciting but they were three products that offered a kick and a touch of flavour in the absence of other varieties being readily available.

These days there is a wealth of chillies available (and often grown) in the UK. It pleases us to see this bloom and we find that people are becoming more daring and interested in this incredibly versatile fruit.

So, which chilli to use with your meat? Here’s our handy guide to some of the heats and flavours of chillies and how we would use them.

Jalapeno

Most people have had a jalapeno at some point but these are usually pickled and don’t have the great flavour of the fresh variety. Green jalapenos are considered mild by today’s standards and, when fresh, they have a thick, crunchy flesh which has a great earthiness which works well with darker meats. Our preference is with beef and we like other greens with it if we were to make a marinade. For example, blitz some fresh jalapenos with fresh coriander, salt, pepper, rice vinegar and a pinch of ground ginger for a simple marinade for brisket or saddle. Rice vinegar is great as its mellow flavour doesn’t interfere with the concerto of flavours offered up by the other ingredients. You can generally buy fresh green jalapenos all year round in supermarkets. Bear in mind that red jalapenos are hotter (for as long as they have been allowed to ripen on the plant) and sweeter. It’s the red jalapenos that are used to make chipotle. The flavour of jalapenos will stand up to any smoking woods including heavier woods such as oak.

Cayenne

Used in Tobasco and commonly found in powder form, when used fresh this chilli throws out notes of red berries and sweet pepper. We love this pepper when left raw and added at the end of a dish as you might with soft herbs such as parsley and basil. For us, this is a brilliant chilli for pork, especially sweeter cuts cooked on & close the bone. If you want to make your pork sing with a finishing sauce/drizzle, mix some lime juice with toasted fennel seeds, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, salt, ground pink pepper corns, a touch of rapeseed oil and finely chopped fresh cayenne chilli. You can marinade with this drizzle but don’t cook the pork on a high heat and keep it away from the flame until the very end for a light char. Burnt cayenne chilli just ain’t the same!

AJI

There are over 70 varieties of Aji chilli but there is one stand-out pepper in this family for us and that’s the Aji Lemon. When in season (Aug-Nov), you may be able to buy this chilli fresh from some suppliers and, when out of season, dried & powdered versions should be available. As its name suggests, this chilli has a massive citrus punch. It genuinely tastes like semi-sweet lemon but it also carries a fiery punch. For us, it’s a marriage for chicken. We love it finely chopped andmixed with butter, fresh thyme, lemon zest and black pepper. Don’t melt the butter, just cream it together and then stuff it under the skin of your favourite cut. We’re no expert on smoking woods but for us, we would want something light so not to override the simple yet lively, zesty flavours that have melted through the meat.

JAMAICAN RED

Related to the ubiquitous Scotch Bonnet, this pepper is a touch milder, sweeter and less perfumed. It’s brilliant with jerk seasoning and our ‘go to’ chilli when being creative with Caribbean cookery. Allspice, nutmeg, salt, lots of black pepper, cinnamon, thyme….all great spices to work with your jerk seasoning and Jamaican Red chilli. If you ever cook a pot of something on your BBQ (stew, beans etc) then consider using this chilli like a bay leaf – pop it in whole and take it out before serving. Your dish will be infused with the great flavour of this pepper without making you reach for the milk every other bite!

Habanero

This chilli doesn’t muck about when it comes to heat. It’s a hot pepper with a slight stone fruit and citrus edge. Some major supermarkets stock these peppers now so getting your hands on a few may not be too difficult, especially when in season. Due to the stone fruit flavours, we like to use this pepper with other stone fruits such as apricots. This then leads us to think about lamb, a strong, fatty meat that loves fruit. Our favourite way is to use this chilli with apricot in a stuffing for rolled lamb shoulder or butterfly leg. Mix the habanero with finely diced apricot, pine nuts, lime juice, bread crumbs, garlic, sauté onion, seasoning, fresh parsley and a splash of water for a stunning, fiery & tasty centrepiece to lamb. Feeling naughty? Add some crumbled black pudding in to the stuffing too!

There are hundreds of varieties of chillies and we could write all day about each one but that’s more for a book than a magazine article! However, we are always happy to answer questions on chillies and you can easily contact us through our website www.cliftonchilliclub.com where we also have more information about our favourite fruit and massive obsession!

Clifton Chilli Club

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