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GOOD COOKING

The Essential Pepper

October 11, 2000|ABBY MANDEL | Mandel is a cookbook author

I couldn't get along without chipotle peppers. With their smokiness and heat, they're an assertive flavor enhancer.

Chipotles are smoked jalapenos. They're available dried in Latino markets, but I like the convenience of canned chipotles in adobo sauce, which you can find in some supermarkets.

Puree canned chipotles in a mini-processor or blender and you have a flavoring that will last for months in the refrigerator. Use it to boost soups, sauces, stews, sandwich spreads, baked beans, vegetables and pastas. Remember, chipotles are as hot as jalapenos; start with a few drops and add more to taste.

James Beard's Roasted Spareribs Over Chipotle Sauerkraut

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

I prefer the flavor of the sauerkraut you find in the grocery refrigerator case to that of the canned.

SPARERIBS

4 baby spareribs racks

Coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

* Arrange ribs in single layer, rounded side up, in shallow roasting pan. Roast on lower rack at 350 degrees 30 minutes, then season ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Continue roasting until browned and crisp as desired, 30 to 40 minutes.

SAUERKRAUT

1 (25-ounce) jar sauerkraut

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

6 crushed juniper berries

Coarse salt

* Rinse sauerkraut well in colander under cold running water, tossing it with your hands until completely rinsed.

* Place sauerkraut, broth, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, 2 teaspoons chipotle puree, juniper berries and salt to taste in large nonstick skillet; mix well. Bring to boil, uncovered, then reduce heat and simmer until most of liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust chipotle. (Can be made ahead and reheated, adding water if mixture is too dry.) Serve hot, topped with spareribs.

8 servings. Each serving: 500 calories; 919 mg sodium; 119 mg cholesterol; 36 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 31 grams protein; 0.95 gram fiber.

Chipotle Chili With Black Beans and Corn

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 large onions, chopped

2 zucchini, diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons chile powder

2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon coarse salt

6 cups vegetable broth

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in liquid

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

2 cups raw corn kernels

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed

2 tablespoons minced cilantro, for garnish

Low-fat sour cream, for serving

Sliced green onions, for serving

* Heat oil in (3-quart) non-aluminum pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic, onions, zucchini, cumin, chile powder, chipotle puree, oregano, salt and broth. Stir well. Cook until mixture is softened, stirring often, about 7 minutes.

* Puree tomatoes and their liquid with tomato paste and add to pot, along with corn and black beans. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches a chili consistency, about 1 hour. Taste and adjust chipotle. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated 3 days or frozen 1 month. To serve, gently reheat, adding water if chili is too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.) Serve hot, garnished with cilantro, passing sour cream and sliced green onions separately.

8 servings. Each serving: 194 calories; 1,266 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 2.69 grams fiber.

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