CHILE TORTILLAS CON QUESO

Image by SJKeyChronicals

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 then and had no idea what remedy would 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 chemicals in the Jalapeño around my tongue and throat.

Hot Kids Mumbo Jumbo

Years later I found myself warning my youngest daughter, Stephanie, about the dangers of doing the same thing. We were at a Pollo Loco restaurant in Las Vegas one evening when she was still a teenager and she did the dastardly deed anyways. I texted her while writing this blog and asked what she did to alleviate the pain back then and she replied: “I think, possibly, that I ate some rice or bread, but more likely I think I just suffered through it”. Whew!

While writing this article, I likewise posted a chili eating experience question to my son, Eric. I asked him if he liked the hot peppers and he flat-out responded with a “No“! The next response revolved around his experimentations with a Habanero chili. He recalls the spontaneous reflex of “screaming out loud” after completion of that derringer do! The odd thing about him is that it does not bother his conscious to bring back fiery hot chili 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 because the lactic acid diffuses the chemical reaction.

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 some local farmers who grew their own peppers.

They gave 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

  • 2 Large Flour Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Choice of Jalapeño, Cayenne, Chipotle, or Banana Peppers cut into 1/4″ slices 
  • Homemade Salsa or Pico de Gallo (Optional)
  • Fresh Cilantro (Optional)
  • Sour Cream (used 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 chili 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. Lay another large tortilla the same size over the top.
  8. Heat tortilla combo in microwave oven for 60 seconds.
  9. Remove heated tortilla combo.
  10. Place on hot griddle for 30 seconds 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 Cayenne Peppers 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) and a little guacamole might do the trick. Who knows until you try!

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