Before you think I’ve gone off my rocker and lost my ability to spell, let me define “offal” for those who don’t know. Offal is basically what is leftover from a butchered animal…the entrails, organs and such. To some, offal is a delicacy. To others, a gag-inducing thought.
Rewind to April Fools’ Day. I am not a big fan. Historically, the internet goes insane on April Fools’ Day and you can believe even less of what you read than usual. I find all the “hilarious” pranks tiresome. But what did I do when I saw that Marx Foods was running a Ridiculously Offal Recipe Challenge, with boneless pork rectums as the must-use ingredient? I clicked that link. Why wouldn’t I? That’s a recipe challenge to be seen. Well, they got me. April Fools’!!! Hardy har har. But even though I undoubtedly rolled my eyes, I couldn’t help but chuckle…a boneless pork rectum joke is an April Fools’ prank I can get behind. Even better, to those that had been fooled, Marx Foods was offering to send samples of their premium dried chiles. I guess April Fools’ Day isn’t so bad after all.
My mailbox has never smelled so good as when this package of dried chile flakes arrived. They were smoky, spicy, and so fresh…I couldn’t wait to sample each of them (check out their assortment here). My mind immediately started racing thinking of how I could use these products. Of course they would be fantastic in all the usual ways: sprinkled on grilled veggies or pizza, added to soups and stews, tossed in a stir-fry…I’ve used them in all those ways now and they add fantastic flavor to each dish. But I really wanted to showcase these chiles, specifically the chipotle flakes, which have a rating of 30,000 units on the Scoville scale.
So instead of an offal recipe, I came up with this…
Chipotle Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Spicy Candied Kumquats
Fills 4 small ramekins
5 ounces kumquats
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon granulated chipotle chile flakes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon granulated chipotle chile flakes
For the candied kumquats: slice the ends off each kumquat and discard, then slice the remaining fruit into 4-5 rounds.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar and chile flakes. Bring to a boil, add the kumquat slices, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy.
Let cool and refrigerate. (This recipe makes more than needed for the panna cotta.)
For the panna cotta: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let sit undisturbed.
Meanwhile, whisk the yogurt and chile flakes together in a large bowl.
Combine the cream, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, remove the vanilla pod and whisk gelatin into cream to dissolve, then whisk cream mixture into yogurt.
Pour into ramekins and refrigerate at least 6-8 hours, until firm.
To unmold, dip the ramekins in hot water. Slide a knife around the edge and tip out onto a plate. Spoon candied kumquats and syrup over the top.
I got exactly what I wanted with this recipe. The chipotle flavor is very apparent, possibly the star, but the kumquats and vanilla give it a run for its money. Each bite of panna cotta is creamy and slightly tangy, and your first taste is vanilla. Then a smokiness creeps up on you and a very subtle spice makes itself known. If you get a bite with a chile flake, the flavor is stronger. When combined with the spicy candied kumquats, the whole dish explodes with flavor. Kumquats are quite tart and bitter when raw, but when candied they turn sweet and the syrup is almost honey-like. There is still a distinct bitter flavor, but it is mellowed by the sugar. The chipotle balances the sweet and tart with a very intense smoky spice. I could eat the kumquats straight out of the jar.
What did I learn from this experience? The moral of the story seems to be that no matter what day of the year it is, I will always, gladly, click a link that involves something offal. Bonus points if I get an amazing assortment of chile flakes out of the deal.
Thanks to Marx Foods for sending me this assortment of dried chile flakes. Although I received these products complimentary, all opinions are my own.