A few months ago I posed the question “What one kitchen item would you take with you?” While that question required some thought on my part, this one had an answer before I thought of the question: chili powder.
In an attempt to improve my chili making skills I started making my own chili powder from an Alton Brown recipe several years ago. It is a mixture of various dried chili peppers and spices. I regularly substitute ingredients as I can never find the cascabel chilies the recipe calls for and I always use guajillos because I like their flavor. The recipe is great because it is more of a guideline and you can mix and match the type and quantity of the peppers to suit your taste. These days I rarely use it to make chili but instead use it as a seasoning for almost anything. Add a little salt and it is great on fish, shrimp, beef, chicken, pork or anything else you can think to put it on. I always add a little bit to homemade salsa or guacamole to help round out the flavor.
Why chili powder? I love Mexican food but it is practically nonexistent in the Eastern Hemisphere. When returning from Europe on previous vacations the first meal I’d have (not counting the Steak n’ Shake picked up on the way back from the airport) is Mexican food. I have a feeling that once we are on the other side of the Atlantic finding all the ingredients we need for a full meal might be tricky but having the chili powder will make it easier to recreate even if it is slightly half-assed. We will be crossing several borders on this trip and I know rules can vary from country to country so hopefully it doesn’t get confiscated along the way. I’m looking forward to explaining it with hand gestures.
What item from your cupboard would you take?