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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chili Lime Marinade Made Easy

I love to barbecue (or grill, I use the terms synonymously knowing that barbecue is a type of food in some regions and how it is prepared in others--if you have an issue then you have issues). I love to experiment. I love to experiment with food and flavor combinations for my barbecue. This weekend I hit a homerun on a new technique that many may already know, but it was new to my un-culinary-educated experience.

Some of my favorite marinades and basting liquids contain lime juice--fresh lime juice from the limes on our tree in the front yard (a "Mexican" or "Key-Lime" tree). The limes are just smaller than a golf ball with incredible flavor. Squeeze one on a piece of tri-tip or a butterflied chicken and bliss is found.

Grilled chili peppers is also one of my favorites from the outdoor cooker, I love the flavor and the spice they bring to a tortilla filled with any grilled meat. With kids the flavor and the spice can sometimes be too intense so I have had to cut back on how many, and what type, of chilies I like to use. Until Saturday.

I was listening to a radio program and the on-air expert (not Melinda Lee who I very much enjoy) was explaining how the heat in chili peppers is cut by acid and if you soak them in acid they will retain their flavors and loose much of their heat. Perfect! I like acids: citrus juices, alcohol, vinegar (in smaller doses than Leslie) and was excited to try a new technique.

Saturday afternoon to prep for my Super Bowl chili I cut the stems off and just scraped out as much of the seeds as I could in jalapeno, Anaheim and banana peppers. Then I put them in a Ziploc with the juice of two of our small Mexican limes. Making sure the juice got inside the peppers I put the bag in the cold-box overnight.

Sunday morning when I opened the bag to retrieve the peppers for roasting I was hit with the wonderful aroma of chilies and lime--it smelled fantastic. Not one to waste something that smells that good I quickly rubbed my pork loin chops with salt, pepper and house rub, placed in a bag, poured in the chili-lime juice and vacuum sealed the contents. Into the cold-box until after church to marinade.

I grilled the pork over the mesquite and without basting the flavor of the chili-lime marinade was terrific. There was little heat, but not too much, and to be able to enjoy the flavor of the chilies without worrying about the heat was a plus.

The pork, the roasted peppers and the left over chili-lime all went into the chili pot for what may have been the best SB Chili I have made in the almost 25 years I have been making it.

Try it, bag of chilies and lime juice then use to marinate chicken, pork, tri-tip, fish--you'll love it!

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