Chile Jelly from Oaxaca

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Spicy sweet spreads to start—or finish—your day with

Oaxaca ought to be classed with world culinary capitals like Paris; there is so much culture, so much good cooking, so many exceptional ingredients, such marvelous markets to explore that one could easily spend weeks there. Or maybe just move there! That’s what Susana Trilling did decades ago! I first met Susana many years ago (probably about the time I was reading Fire in the Belly). Through her diligence, we have gained access to some of the traditional foods of Oaxaca. She’s written beautiful books, put out a PBS series, and done a host of classes in which she shares her passion for the region’s food, culture, and cooking. If you’re intrigued by Oaxaca (and most food lovers are) consider going for a week of cooking classes at her Seasons of My Heart school. We’ve long been getting her traditional hand made mole pastes, and the great stone-ground Mexican chocolate. In the last few months, Susana has started shipping us these wonderful Oaxacan chile jellies.

In Oaxaca al Gusto, Diana Kennedy writes: “Oaxaca is famous for its multicolored moles but not so much for the array of chiles that lend their colors and tastes to those moles.” And she adds, “The chiles from around the state of Oaxaca stand out from the rest.” Which explains, at least in part, why these two chile jellies are so special. The Yellow Chile Jelly is made with the Chile Canario, also known as Chile Manzana for its apple shape. The heat comes up slowly and then finishes strong while the sweetness carries it all the way through. About a minute after you eat it, you’ll feel the full mouthfeel! The Red Chile Jelly is made with ripe jalapenos, red bell peppers, and Chile de Agua. The latter is one of the signature heirloom chiles of the region. These are sweet up front, pleasantly hot in the finish, with a lovely complex flavor.

Both chile jellies are incredibly easy to use. Spread them onto toast, biscuits, or a Zinglish Muffin from the Bakehouse. They’re seriously outstanding on the Creamery’s handmade Cream Cheese or Goat Cream Cheese. They go great on grilled cheese! Delicious if you use them with sautéed scallops or shrimp—after you sauté the seafood, add a few spoonfuls to the hot pan to deglaze, then pour that back over top of the hot seafood! Or just eat the jellies out of the jar!