Lock, Stock and Barrel

So about a week ago, I got a call from my friend Robert, who is, I'd say, at least in my top 5 favorite cloud-physicists-moonlighting-as-food-writers. The gist of Robert's phone calls tend to be "Deliciousness afoot; come immediately." This was no exception; this time, he wanted to know if I could meet him to drive 6 hours round-trip to have dinner in a field of a tomato farm sort of near Allentown, PA. He was leaving in three hours.

Because I am not stupid, I said yes.

Dinner, put on by these guys and cooked by this guy at Eckerton Hill Farm, run by this guy, was awesome. But that's not the point. Also, the meeting that I totally skipped out on to be there is also not the point.

At one point, Wayne Miller, who works at Eckerton Hill, handed me one of the North-Indian-style chiles they were growing. I had fully intended to bring it home to my mother, who is sort of painfully blithe about the kind of heat that would fell your average grown man and/or horse.

But I wasn't going to see her for a bit, and the chile was starting to look sad, so I thought I'd throw the chile into a pot of stock I was making, along with all the sad remnant produce from the day-before-we-get-our-weekly-CSA and a bunch of similarly benign things.

Yeah, ok. The second it went into the pot, I started coughing. A minute later, my husband, at the other end of the (admittedly tiny) apartment, started coughing. Two minutes later we were both weeping, which continued over the course of the evening.

Turns out that chile was in fact recently named the hottest in the world, equivalent in heat to about 100 jalapenos, and hot enough that you could probably make a convincing case for pre-emptive war against the kind of country that would harbor such a thing.

So I made risotto with about a third of the stock. Rice, butter, shallots, white wine, and Parmesan. Thought the butter and Parmesan and starchy Arborio would mellow out the Stock of Doom.

Of course not. In the risotto's defense, though, it only caused minor physical tremors.

Anyone want some homemade chicken stock?

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

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