~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or: Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~
One of my favorite times of year is now: strawberry season. For the past two weeks, juicy and delicious strawberries have been available to me in every market. While I've been gleefully feasting on them, it wasn't until today that I could officially proclaim it strawberry season. Why? Because the strawberry patch in my husbands garden is full, and, they are ripening very quickly. Strawberries are also showing up at all of our local farmers markets this week too, and, lets face it, there's nothing better than freshly picked, locally-grown strawberries!
When I was growing up, the first thing every cook in my family did with fresh strawberries was make strawberry jam. I was the first one in line with the Wonder bread, Jiff peanut butter and a knife, waiting for it to be cool enough to slather on a PB&J and eat!
Yes, I could show you a recipe for strawberry jam (and eventually I will), but, my guess is, you probably have a family recipe for strawberry jam, and that make me very happy. My reason for choosing this particular strawberry sauce recipe as the first of two consecutive strawberry posts is two-fold:
Fresh strawberry sauce, served chilled, is quite versatile and is fantastic on a lot of things besides banana splits. It's great atop pancakes and waffles, stirred into pudding or yogurt, and, your oatmeal or Special K cereal too. It's pictured here atop my recipe for ~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream ~, which you can find in Categories 6, 13 or 20! Fresh strawberry sauce, served warm, is fabulous on grilled chicken, pan-seared duck breasts and poached fish. BUT, when you mix fresh strawberry sauce with a little bit of heat, the kind that comes from chile peppers, you've got a gourmet treat (which leads me to why I'm posting this recipe)!
East meets West: The Strawberry-Chicken Quesadilla!
The first time I ever tasted strawberry sauce made with chile peppers mixed in was in Anaheim, California. It was back in the latter 1980's and Joe was attending a conference. He did as he often did and booked a ticket for me to tag along. On the day before our return home, we shopped and had lunch at an outdoor cafe. For whatever reason, when I saw a "Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla" on the menu, I had to order it. Sandwiched inside of a perfectly grilled flour tortilla, was a mixture of grilled chicken, sauted onion, black beans and queso fresco cheese. Drizzled over the top was a chunky strawberry sauce, and, to my surprise: it was spicy... the kind of spicy that can only come from chile peppers. It was amazing. Here's the fun part of the story: When I asked our waitress about the recipe, she explained that the chef/owner was a Chinese man married to a woman from New Mexico. It seems he had "fused" an Asian recipe for strawberry chicken with the flavors of the American southwest. I just love inventive foodie stories like this!
4 cups coarsely chopped/chunked, fresh strawberries, about 2 pints
2 large, dried guajillo chile peppers, reconstituted, each chopped into 4-6 pieces
1 teaspoon guajillo chile powder
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
~ Step 1. Yesterday I posted ~ How to: Reconstitute Large, Dried Chile Peppers ~ in Categories 13 & 15. I used guajillo chile peppers for that demonstration and for this recipe you'll need to reconstitute 2 large, guajillo chile peppers. Guajillo chiles are moderately hot with a deep-red flesh and a slight berry flavor to them, which makes them perfect for this sauce!
~ Step 4. Bring to a steady simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside 30-45 minutes. Remove and discard the guajillo chile pepper pieces prior to serving warm or at room temperature:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2 quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; large spoon; ladle
Cook's Note: This sauce keeps in the refrigerator for 5-6 weeks and reheats nicely in the microwave. It also freezes well, which is a great reason to make a double or triple batch to have on hand all year long. Did I forget to mention is tastes great chilled too!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)