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You Should Save Your Chile Water

Dried chiles are the backbone of Mexican cuisine. Unlike anglicized, overly salty “taco seasoning,” these dehydrated peppers contribute a wide range of flavors, from earthy and smokey, to fruity and sweet, with varying degrees of heat. They’re so much more than just “hot,” and I don’t want to waste a single bit of their flavor....Continue The Full Reading.

This is part of Eating Trash With Claire, a Lifehacker series where Claire Lower (and friends) convinces you to transform your kitchen scraps into something edible and delicious.

They do, however, require a small amount of prep work. Rather than tossing whole, crunchy, dried chiles into a bubbling pot—which would be a textural nightmare—you need to remove their bitter stems, shake out the seeds, and rehydrate them in a bowl of hot water until they are pliable and soft enough to be whirred into adobo (or any other soup, stew, or sauce).

If you’ve worked with dried chiles before, you probably noticed that the soaking water takes on a dark color, and if you give it a sniff, you’ll find it’s pleasantly smoky and aromatic. That’s flavor, and flavor is valuable. Instead of dumping all that flavor down the drain, use your leftover chile water to make an extra flavorful batch of beans (or rice, or pasta).

All you have to do is replace the your bean-soaking water with the chili water, and let them soak in the fridge overnight, or until you’re ready to cook the beans. It’s a similarly simple one-to-one swap for rice; just replace plain water with the chile water, and cook as usual. You can even use it to cook a pretty pot of pasta or supplement the broth in a soup. Anything plain water can do, chile water can do better.

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