Chile Tortillas Con Queso

Chile Peppers And Heat

I remember the first time I ate a raw Jalapeño. It was like fire against my unseasoned tongue. I was only a teenager and had no idea what to do to relieve the heat in my mouth.

So I made one of the worst decisions of my life! I put my mouth under a kitchen faucet and let water run through it. What I didn’t realize was that the water actually made the whole situation worse. It just moved the un-absorbed Capsaicin in the Jalapeño around my tongue and throat.

Hot Kids

Years later I found myself warning my youngest teenage daughter, Stephanie, about the dangers of doing the same thing. We were at a Pollo Loco restaurant in Las Vegas when she did the dastardly deed anyways. I texted and asked her what she did to cure the pain back then and she replied “Possibly (I ate some) rice or bread, but I think I just suffered through it”. Whew!

While writing this article, I likewise posted a chile-experience question to my son, Eric. I asked him if he liked the hot peppers and he flat-out responded “No“! The next response was something about trying a Habanero chile. He recalls the immediate reflex of “screaming” as an end result! The odd thing about him is that it does not bother his psyche to bring back fiery hot chile pepper sauce from visits to New Orleans to give to his friends in New York. Must be his inner Schadenfreude complex!

My oldest daughter, Susan, had a different result with peppers. “I have never screamed eating chili peppers” she said. “I did eat some red salsa that burned my face but was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I was numb by the time it all ended” she added. Hmm! Hot chile peppers in the salsa?

Chugging water after biting down on a chili pepper will only spread the capsaicin around the inside of your mouth, where it will come in contact with more pain receptors and amp up the burning sensation. Steer clear of beer and soda too—both beverages are mostly water. (…..A glass of milk is probably the best remedy.)

Excerpt from article in Greatist.com by Jeff Cattel

Learning To Accept The Fire

Since then I have learned to accept the fire that comes with chile peppers like Jalapeños, Cayenne Peppers, and Chipotles (Dried Jalapeños). I love the zap and flavor (and heat?) that they add to a meal.

On the flip side, I used to just take flour tortillas and inserted them with shredded cheddar cheese. Folding them over, I would just heat them in the microwave oven for a quick snack. Now I have upped the ante thanks to our farmer friends, Bill and Cindy.

They have given us bags of chile peppers grown on their mini-farm just north of us in Darlington, Florida. In the mix are those Jalapeños, Cayennes, and also the much milder Banana Peppers. Those spicy “accoutrements” are now going into my cheese-filled tortillas. The following recipe is a simple but a tasty way to make this easy-fix meal.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Large Flour Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Choice of Jalapeño, Cayenne, Chipotle, or Banana Peppers
  • Homemade or Herdez Salsa (Optional)
  • Cilantro (Optional)
  • Sour Cream (as a side)

Directions

  1. Begin by heating a flat-surfaced electric griddle on high while doing prep.
  2. Take one large flour tortilla and spread cheddar cheese on one half.
  3. Take chile peppers and split down the middle with knife, leaving seeds intact if they are Banana Peppers. If you choose Jalapeños, or hotter peppers, keep in mind that a lot of the fire is in the seeds. 
  4. Group them together and dice.
  5. Spread the pieces out over the cheese
  6. Add salsa and/or cilantro if desired (for extra flavor).
  7. Fold over tortilla and crease the edge.
  8. Heat tortilla combo in microwave oven (30 secs for 1, and 60 secs for 2).
  9. Remove heated tortilla(s).
  10. Place on hot griddle for 1 minute on each side and remove. 
  11. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and/or salsa on the side.

The Banana Peppers add flavor without the heat. Jalapeños and the Cayennes add a nice amount of heat to the flavor. I haven’t tried Habaneros yet, but may do so when I have the guts to experiment and a large glass of ice-cold milk on the side. 

I think, with a little experimentation, I could turn this recipe into handheld-style Nachos. Throwing in some black olives or black beans (no meat to keep it simple) might do the trick. Who knows until you try!

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