Review: Tia Rita’s Chile/Salt Blends
I received a sample of Tia Rita’s [tag]Chipotle[/tag] Salt Blend and Green [tag]Salt[/tag] Blend, and immediately got to thinking about how to use them. I’ve never used many flavored salts in cooking, so I had a bit of imagining to do. I decided to use both of them in the same cooking adventure, and thus I’m combining the review.
Green Chile Salt Blend Ingredients: Salt, [tag]Green Chile[/tag], Garlic, Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Silicon Dioxide (anti-caking agent), Oregano, Cilantro, Cayenne Pepper
Chipotle Salt Blend Ingredients: Salt, Chipotle (red jalapeno), garlic, onion, green bell pepper, lemon powder, oregano, and cumin
On First Taste:
I gave both salt blends a smell and a taste right out of the bottle. The Green Chile blend had a salty aroma tempered with noticeable garlic and herbs. The taste followed suit – a mellow kick of salt with lots of flavor, and a very mild tingle that can’t be called heat. I liked the bouquet, and immediately started thinking of possibilities.
The Chipotle blend had a strong, smokey – salty scent that made my nose tingle; not with heat, per se, but more like when hay fever hits. Kind of strange, but the scent was decent. I took a taste, and immediately after putting it in my mouth, I started coughing heavily. I thought perhaps it was an anomaly, but sure enough, it happened every time I tried to taste it. Maybe someone substituted coughing/sneezing powder as a trick?
The salt seemed like the perfect seasoning for a batch of homemade potato chips. So, I broke out a couple of spuds and my favorite kitchen utensil, my Mandolin, and went to town making a pile of perfect, thin oval slices.
I use vegetable oil for my potato chips, and a large sauce pan. I put about 1/8 inch of oil into the pan, and bring it to an even medium high heat. Since I cook on an electric stove (I know, I know, but gas wasn’t available in the architecture of my condo – serious chefs please have mercy) I let the temperature stabilize for a long while before starting the frying.
The key to perfect homemade chips is to take your time and not hurry. Keep the pan relatively empty, so the chips can circulate without getting in each other’s way -clumps will destroy the chips quickly, and fewer chips means you’ll be able to pluck them out rapidly as they finish. It only takes a few seconds for a chip to go from perfect to burnt. I tend them with a thin spatula and some small metal tongs. Let the chips fry on one side until the fainest tinge of brown appears, flip, and a few seconds later it’s done. The longer you leave them on the second side, the crispier they will be.
Deposit the chips on a paper towel, soak excess oil off with an additional towel lightly pressed on the top, and set aside to cool. After about 10 minutes, I shake on the seasoning, toss the chips lightly and put into a container.
Another hint is that good chips require liberal seasoning. So, I made two batches. The first got a heavy dose of the Green Chile Salt blend, which gave the chips an attractive, seasoned, green speckled look. The taste was terrific – a well balanced, round flavor which required no additional work. This is a definite winner, and would be a great addition anywhere salt is used – from cooking to topping some corn on the cob.
The Chipotle salt blend continues to give me respiratory problems. Every time I shook it out, whatever particles got into the air gave me a coughing fit. I struggled through it, and after a few minutes and a few big drinks of water, I gave the chips a try. Good, smokey flavor. Much less evidence of salt, and a low level heat that comes on late. It’s not anywhere near a burner, but it has enough zip for a novice chilihead to notice, but not be hurt by. Evidently, my coughing is a function of the spice getting kicked up in the air, since once it was stuck to the chips it didn’t give me any problems.
Tia Rita’s Chile Salt Blends are a good addition to anyone’s kitchen, chilihead or otherwise. They provide a good flavor base with minimum effort. I significantly prefer the Green Chile Salt Blend to the Chipotle Salt Blend, both on flavor and the fact that it doesn’t make me hack up a lung.
Packaging – Nice, simple, and descriptive. 8.6 out of 10.0
Aroma – Salt with spices, well balance. 8.4 out of 10.0
Appearance – Looks like a seasoning should. 8.0 out of 10.0
Taste – Well conceived flavor, very useful seasoning. 8.8 out of 10.0
Heat – Green Chili is very mild. 1.5 out of 10.0
– Chipotle has a small kick. 3.0 out of 10.0
Overall Rating: 8.6 out of 10.0
Tia Rita’s and The Truck Farm
P. O. Box 1018
Fairacres NM 88033
Phone: 1 800 A1 HONEY (214 6639)
Fax: 505 523-1447