I had completely forgotten our local annual food festival was happening until I walked into town a few weeks ago and found Theo Randall setting up a cookery demonstration outside my work. After overcoming my mild bemusement I gave the Ewing a call and she came to meet me for lunch and a little stroll around.
Although it's not particularly big or exciting it was good to see a few local businesses there, including the lovely Les from Roots Deli. After a chat and a few samples we ended up buying some of the delicious Barkham Blue and, rather excitingly, a jar of dried Espalette pepper from the French Basque region. (still unopened as I write this, but have a few ideas brewing...)
After stopping for banana cake and brownies from Flour Power City, and some Italian salami with garlic and fennel, I headed for the Chillies2U stall, a small chilli farm in Oxfordshire. The Ewing had bought me their Carribbean Hot sauce a couple of years ago and I wanted to stock up on some more spicy stuff. Rather excitingly they had fresh chillis for sale and I picked up a big bag of Padron peppers and some rather interesting looking, long green/black chillis.
These beauties were labelled as 'pasilla', but a little bit of Googling revealed that the fresh version is called a chilaca, while the dried version of the same chilli are known as the pasilla or chilli negro. They are a mild, thin-skinned, chilli that are rarely seen undried. The man at the market suggested adding them to a chilli or stir fry, but I wanted to roast them and combine with some of the new season's corn in a simple salsa.
Not only does this go nicely with steak chicken, chops or fish it's a cinch to put together. The real bonus though is the wonderful smells that fill the kitchen when you grill the corn and peppers. The corn as a rich, nutty smell, like a farmer's field at the end of long summers day; while the chilacas have an extraordinary fresh grass and liquorice aroma. If you can't find chilacas then use poblanos, or even jalapeños. (check how hot they are first!)
I liked this salsa smoky and simple, with the coriander and lime bringing freshness and a dash of chilli powder and some onion for a bit of 'bite'. You could also add a little diced tomato, avocado or even some tinned black beans.
Roasted Corn and Chilaca Salsa
2 Sweetcorn cobs
4 Chilaca chillis (or use 2 poblanos)
1 Small red onion
Small bunch of coriander
Juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp Chilli powder (optional)
Roast the corn and chillis, either under a grill or on the barbecue, until they are nicely blackened but not burnt. Leave to cool.
Stand the cobs on one end and remove the corn kernels with a sharp knife.
Cut chillis and onion into dice.
Place veg into a dish and season with lime, salt and chilli powder to taste.
Finish with chopped coriander and a little olive oil.