Hot Garden Peppers in January

hot garden peppers in JanuaryIt’s cold here in the Mile High City today, the perfect day for some hot garden peppers in the kitchen!

It’s snowing. One of those beautiful winter snows where flakes drift lazily down from the sky and pile gently on the ground like sifted flour. Without question it is beautiful. I hate it.

I’m a summer kinda gal. I prefer green to white and warm to cold. The only thing that can console me on cold days like today is pulling out some of the deliciousness I’ve preserved from the lost days of my summer garden. In this case, some hot garden peppers!

Today I’ve got a pot of Borracho Beans simmering on the stove. I can never grow enough dried beans to last me through winter, so this pot is courtesy of Rancho Gordo. (They’ve got an amazing selection of heirloom beans, I love these folks!) While the beans didn’t come from my garden, the hot peppers sure did.

I love growing hot peppers and grow several varieties every year, typically in the neighborhood of ten plants. We use them all summer long, and the rest we pickle, candy, sauce or dry. I’ve not purchased hot pepper flakes or powders for years! I particularly love Aji Omni Colors and Biker Billy Jalapeños, and grow several of each of these two varieties every year.

To soften up the beans I generally follow the Rancho Gordo basic bean recipe: Sauté onion, celery and carrot until soft, add beans, water and bay and boil until soft. I often modify this a bit, and today I’ve added a couple dried peppers from the garden to start getting the heat in early. Once the beans soften up a bit, I’ll add a bit of smoked salt to the pot. It adds the usual saltiness you’d expect with a smokey punch, a delicious combination!

Once the beans are done, it’s time to get them Borracchoed! (Yes, I totally just made that word up.) I start with a recipe from Gimme Some Oven – if you don’t follow her need to start following immediately. That girl knows how to cook!

I modify her base recipe to suit my taste. So that means a lot more onion and garlic, WAY more hot peppers (I like it hot, what can I say), I skip the brown sugar, and probably use more cilantro than I should. In the summer all the herbs come straight out of the herb garden, but by this late in winter I’ve often used up my stores. I use fresh organic herbs from the grocery store instead.

This recipe is delicious to eat as is, scooping the beans up with a bit of corn tortilla. I’ll also often use it as fill for tacos, adding some pickled hot peppers from the garden, olives, and avocado to the mix. If we’re out of pickled hot peppers or the mood suites I’ll use some of our home made hot pepper sauce instead.

However you eat it, knowing the delicious spiciness in your dinner came fully or in part from your own backyard gives an extra bit of warm coziness in your belly.

Do you grow hot peppers in your garden? Which varieties, and do you preserve them? And what do you do with your hot garden peppers in January?