Hatch Chili Cornbread

4 long green chiles, such as Hatch or Anaheim
1/4 cup bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk

Roast the chiles under the broiler until blackened on both sides, about 10-12 minutes, turning once. Once blackened, place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from both the chiles and chop. You should have about 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 450° F. While the oven is heating, put the bacon grease or oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and place in the oven while the oven preheats.

Meanwhile, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined.
Take the cast iron skillet out of then oven, and pour the hot oil into the batter and stir until well combined. Add the Hatch green chiles to the batter and gently stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter back into the hot skillet and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and an inserted knifes comes out clean. Serve warm.

Seared Skirt Steak With Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Polenta

1 1/2 pounds skirt or flank steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons), divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup coarse-ground polenta (corn meal)
1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 quart cherry tomatoes
2 small red chilies such as Fresno or Thai bird, thinly sliced
3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Chopped chives, scallion greens, or parsley, for garnish

Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Rub with 2 minced cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside at room temperature.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until butter is foaming. Add 2 minced cloves garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisking constantly, slowly add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is completely tender and creamy, about 40 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep it loose.

When polenta is fully cooked, stir in heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add steak in a single layer and cook, turning frequently, until well browned on both sides and center of steak registers 110°F for medium-rare or 115°F for medium, 6 to 8 minutes total. 1 minute before steak is done, add tomatoes to pan. Remove steaks and set aside. Add chilies, scallions, and remaining 2 minced cloves garlic to pan. Add 1/4 cup water and scrape up browned bits. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until tomatoes burst and release their juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and soy sauce off heat, adding water as necessary to reach a creamy sauce-like consistency.

To serve, transfer polenta to a pre-heated plate. Slice steak thinly against the grain. Transfer to polenta, top with blistered tomatoes and pan sauce, sprinkle with herbs, and serve.

Piri Piri Oil

3 to 4 medium fresh piri piri chiles with seeds
6 to 8 small dried piri piri chiles
1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons whiskey
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup olive oil, divided

Stem and roughly chop the chiles. Pulse the chiles and garlic in a food processor or use a mortar and pestle to mash them to a paste. You need about 2 tablespoons of chile paste.

Scrape the paste out into a small saucepan, add the whiskey and heat over low heat until warm. Add the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, bay leaf, salt and 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (you can add extra garlic if you want it more garlicky). Simmer until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and lightly whisk in the rest of the oil.

Pour into a sterilized jar and refrigerate for at least a few days for the flavors to mingle. The oil will be hot at first, but you’ll find it will settle and mellow later.

Notes: Fresh piri piri chiles are hard to find, but you can substitute fresh red Fresno chiles, which are widely available. Dried piri piri chiles can be found online at americanspice.com (under “birdseye”) and wholespice.com (under “African birdseye”); you can also substitute dried arbol chiles.

Pica Pau (Portuguese Steak with Olives and Pickled Onions)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 12- to 14-ounce beef strip steaks, each about 1 inch thick, trimmed of fat and gristle, patted dry
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
3/4 cup dry white wine
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Piri-piri oil, to serve (optional)

In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Season both sides of each steak with the mixture, rubbing it into the meat. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the onion, olives, vinegar and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Let the steaks and onion mixture stand for 30 minutes, stirring the onion mixture once halfway through.

In a nonstick 10-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Add the steaks and cook without disturbing until well browned on the bottoms, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until well browned on the second sides and the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare), another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

Pour off and discard the fat from the skillet, then wipe out the pan. Set over medium-high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and chili. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and bay, then bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 2 to 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in the butter until melted.

Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Cut each steak lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the parsley and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Drain off and discard the liquid from the onion mixture and transfer to a platter. Pour the steak mixture over the onions, then drizzle with piri-piri oil, if using.

Note: The dish, eaten with toothpicks, is served as as appetizer or small plate with crusty bread and cold beer as accompaniments. Pickled cauliflower and carrots are often, but not always, included. The bed of vinegar-marinated red onions and olives balance the beef’s richness.