Posted September 21, 2006 by John in Reviews

Review: Tia Rita’s Chile/Salt Blends

Tia Rita's 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?

On Food
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

In Conclusion:
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