Way back last summer I wrote about what we called at the time the great rib wars from a few years back….
A couple we hung out with years ago were most recently from Memphis, home to some of the most finger-licking, rib-tickling que in the world. He was from just south of Atlanta, a southern boy to the core (in a good way), and she was a gorgeous woman who hailed from Santa Fe.
They both loved great ribs; they had a home version of a competition smoker, cooked over real wood (peach, oak and mesquite) and served up some of the best eats we’d seen in a long, long time. She is probably more responsible that any one else in teaching us about the goodness that is southwestern cooking.
As it turns out he learned the ins and out of the world of que from helping run a family owned que joint back home. He had fallen from grace and become a neurosurgeon, but we at least knew that despite his poor life choices he came from a good family of hard working, honest folks.
They were fly fishers, almost always smiling, ready to travel at the drop of a hat (no kids) and generous to a fault.
There was a minor culinary hitch in their paradise though.
He couldn’t stand red chile and she couldn’t abide the sweet, tomato based que sauces that grace many a Memphis table. Hence the term the great rib wars.
I can’t recall all the details of how the truce was eventually established, but they came up with this outstanding Red Chile Rib recipe and smoked it up right along side their award winning peach glazed baby backs (there’s that Georgia thing again) every time ribs hit the plate.
Her name was Florida, and she’s mostly to blame for our love of the amazing flavor palate that comprises the food of the American Southwest.
This is another one of her recipes that we’ve recently dug out again as we’ve found ourselves enjoying more soups, gumbos and chiles given our overall rainy and chilly northwestern spring so far.
One thing she taught us was what an array of flavors the ancho chile offers – fruity cherry, smoke, chocolate and some every argue there’s a hint of tobacco there too. Anchos don’t pack much heat though in this recipe the chipotles make up for that and the black beans add an earthly background that truly unique.
We took to calling this FABB Bread back in the day – Florida’s Ancho Black Bean Bread – and it’s every bit as home on the river as ME’s Beer Rye River Bread.
1 1/2 cups dried black beans, cooked and drained (save 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid)
1 1/2 ounces dried ancho peppers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes (reserve the liquid)
2 dried chipotle chiles, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes (reserve the liquid)
1 scant tbsp. kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. dry yeast
2 1/4 cups white bread flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp. water, lightly beaten
Puree the peppers. Puree the soaked and softened chile peppers, set aside.
Puree the beans. Add the cooked and drained beans, 1/2 cup of the reserved bean liquid, salt, peanut oil and cumin seeds to your trusty food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
Make some mud. In a large mixing bowl combine the molasses and 1/2 cup of the chile soaking liquid; whisk in the yeast. While mixing continuously mix half of both flours. You’re looking for a consistency that resembles a thick mud here. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make a dough. Now add the chile puree and the bean puree, mix well. While stirring continuously slowly add the remaining flour so that a thick dough is formed.
Knead and proof the dough #1. Knead the dough for 15 minutes OR until it’s supple and nice and soft. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm (and draft free) place until doubled in size (about an hour for us).
Knead and proof the dough #2. Knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes; now back into the proofing bowl until doubled again (30 minutes or so for us).
Final proof and bake. Preheat the oven to 350. Punch the dough down, divide in half and form into two nice round loaves. Place on a cornmeal covered baking sheet and let rise once more time for 30 minutes or so. Brush with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes until nicely crisp and the loaves sound hollow the rapped with a knuckle or bread knife. Cool on a rack.