Chile weather: Since the Wynkoop Brewing Co. opened at 1634 18th Street ten years ago this month, Colorado's microbrewery business has boomed to the point that the state now has more brewpubs per capita than any other. Wynkoop, which led the way, should be pouring its Tin Pig Anniversary Ale through the end of the month; it's also cooked up a batch of Drunken Pumpkin Ale (heavy on the brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon). And, of course, that ultimate scary brew, Patty's Chile Beer, is always available.
Over the past decade, the popularity of chiles has increased just about as quickly as that of microbrews. You find them in beers, you find them in brats, and now you can even find them in apple pie. This sublime, if ridiculous-sounding, confection mixes two products that are in abundant supply in Colorado this fall, thanks to bumper crops of chiles and apples.
At the Showboat Bakery in Granby, Sherry Kent makes Killer Apple and Green Chile Apple pies from scratch in her twenty-foot leased kitchen--in a Conoco gas station, of all places. "In a cowtown," she points out. A former pastry chef at Winter Park's private Arlberg Club, Kent rented the unlikely restaurant space and moved in with her recipes three years ago, and "I'm damned well getting away with it," she says. "It makes me happy to do what I love for a living." And what she loves is cooking good, homemade food. Kent's apple pies--having picked cherries as a kid, she absolutely hates cherry pies, she says--sell for $10 per. At first she worried whether she'd be able to collect that much for a pie cooked in a gas station--"in a cowtown," she repeats. But her recipes call for a pound and a half of apples--Granny Greensmith--per pie, "and I'm not making cheesy pies," she says. "I'm not making crappy ones. Life's too short. If they want those, they can just go to the supermarket and buy some frozen pie."
No, she's into making perfect pies, and her Green Chile Apple is a thing of beauty, tart and hot all at once. But the Showboat, which serves 24-7, isn't all sweetness and light. "Right now it's hunting season," she says, "and I'm doing those goofy hunter breakfasts. I'm filthy, I'm tired, I don't care, it's beautiful."
Sherry, stay as sweet--and tart--as you are.
Kent, who got her recipe from friend Barry Hale in Durango about five years ago, isn't the only person putting the heat on apples. The following recipe comes from Bueno Foods, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, food company, which got it from William Keller, executive chef of the Four Hills Country Club in Albuquerque. Someone my husband works with made the pie and brought it in to share. The recipe's been making the rounds ever since--and with good reason. It's spicy and comforting, like some tequila-swigging grandma.
Green Chile Apple Pie
Follow your favorite recipe for a double-crust pie dough, then divide the result into two balls, each wrapped separately in wax paper or film.
6-8 medium-sized tart apples, peeled and quar-
tered, cored and cut into half-inch-thick slices
6 green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. water
Toss apples with chiles, sugar, flour, lemon peel, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside. Place oven rack at lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll half of pie dough to fit pie plate; trim edges, leaving one-inch overhang. Spoon apple mixture into lined plate. Dot with butter. Roll out remaining dough. Moisten edges of bottom crust with water and place top crust on, crimping edges to seal. Beat egg with water; brush top crust with mixture and cut slits into crust to allow steam to escape. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden. Serves 8.
Like a bowl full of jelly: Speaking of chiles, Marti Nash of Evergreen has been putting them to good use in her homemade jellies, which are now available at The Peppercorn (1235 Pearl Street) in Boulder and just about everywhere that sells food in Evergreen. The spicy one, Hotsy Totsy Pepper Jelly, is made with red bell peppers and jalapenos, and it'll knock the cream cheese off your bagel, which is what I've been eating it on. And then there's a sweeter, milder version, Two-ta-Tango, that contains red bells and oranges. Both are great on corn bread, too.
Nash started marketing the jellies when friends convinced her that her old family recipes were good enough to eat--and sell. A ten-and-a-half-ounce jar of either flavor costs $3.85, and Nash also sells it by the case, at sixteen jars for $46.20. Call 303-674-7653 to deal with her directly.
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Spice of life: The restaurant business continues to heat up. Among the eateries joining the local lineup this month is the Larimer Group's first non-downtown location, the Starlight Cantina and Pizzeria, at 4100 East Mexico Avenue. The chef is Rebecca Benchouaf, formerly of Loews Giorgio Hotel and Lincoln 100 (that space will reopen any day now as Radek Cerny's Radex); her menu mixes Southern Italian and downhome Mexican.
Hi Ricky, at 11318 15th Street, a leader in the recent invasion of Asian restaurants into LoDo, also mixes cuisines, but at least it tries to stick to one continent. The menu, chock-full of tidbits about traditional Asian street food, also offers this gem: "In Bangkok, one of the most originally named restaurants is 'Cabbage and Condoms.' Talk about hot and spicy!"
No, thanks. We'd rather stick with Monica Lewinsky's Altoid trick.