Green Chile Australian Damper
Carlton M. Caves
2005 July 14

Damper is a bread made originally by bush rangers and settlers in the Australian bush. My family and I have enjoyed some spectacularly good examples of damper on several tours in the bush and so decided to try it at home in New Mexico. Like any good American, we couldn't resist "improving" it, and like any good New Mexican, we improved it by adding green chiles. Damper can be cooked in a Dutch oven or in a regular oven. This recipe makes a small loaf suitable for serving 4 to 6 people, depending on how hungry they are.

2 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
4 ounces green chiles, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 teaspoons tarragon
1 cup milk

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Cut in the butter until fine crumbs form. Add the chiles, garlic, and tarragon, and then add the milk to make a soft dough. Knead dough lightly on a floured board until smooth (if too sticky, add more flour). Shape into a rounded loaf, brush with milk, and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf makes a hollow sound when tapped.

The green chiles are available in New Mexico in individual frozen packets; elsewhere you will have to find fresh chiles or, more likely, buy canned jalapenos.

This recipe is based on a recipe supplied to the Global Gourmet by Jacqualine Hollingworth of Toorak, Victoria. You can find out more about Australian bush tucker by consulting Ms. Hollingworth's contribution to the Global Gourmet.

My son, Jeremy, and our guide, Vanni, showing off a magnificent loaf of damper (no green chiles) they made at our campsite in Purnululu National Park, after a day of exploring the Bungle Bungle Range. We were nearing the end of our tour from Broome to Darwin through the Kimberley region of northwestern Australia.

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