Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peter Piper Pickled Peppers

Sorry, couldn't resist. These peppers are actually courtesy of two Michaels.Every once in a while I am so struck by the appearance of a dish or recipe that I am motivated to try it out, just to see it for myself. That was the case with these pickled chili peppers from a recipe by Michael Symon as featured on Michael Ruhlman's blog.If you take a gander at the photo Ruhlman has on this post (taken by his wife, a professional photographer) you will see what I am talking about. It is just one of those stop you in your tracks shots.

I looked at her photograph for about three full minutes and then thought to myself..."I want something that looks like that in my refrigerator!".

Now, two tricks to this. One trick is figuring out if the recipe is easy enough to be reproducible given the bounds of my somewhat limited patience in combination with my similarly limited kitchen skills set.

The second trick is to see if my results are not only photogenic, but photogenic in such a way that I can capture it with my entry level digital camera and just past entry level camera skill set.

For starters, this recipe is dead simple once you assemble the ingredients.
{Recipe from the website, photos mine.}

Michael Symon's Pickled Chillis
Choose a colorful variety of chillis, fresno, jalapeno, banana, tomato, serrano—the thick fleshed peppers work best. The method is very simple, simply fill a jar with peppers, bring the pickling liquid to a simmer and pour it hot over the peppers. You can use them once they're cooled but they're best after they've been sitting in the pickle for a few weeks. They'll keep for a long time--how long, I don't know because I always use them up for I can find out.

Pickling Liquid
sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
4 sprigs of marjoram
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 to 2 pounds chillis (or enough to fill whatever vessel you're using)

Place chillis in a jar and cover them with water.Pour off the water into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half the water and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons salt for every three cups of liquid.Combine your liquid and remaining spices in a pot and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then let cool slightly. Pour the pickling liquid over the peppers, screw the lid on and refrigerate. To use, slice into rings, chop or mince depending how you want to use them.

One note. I realized I did not have a measuring cup large enough so I used my blender jar to pour the water into.And here are my results.I used a combination of sherry vinegar and Bragg's (Mother included) Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Sherry Vinegar is expensive plus I wanted to use as many organic components as I could reasonably locate. The marjoram, sugar, and at least two thirds of the chilis are organic. I used a variety of peppers as suggested, including two different kinds from our garden, and seriously... If they taste great I will be thrilled but in the meantime, just looking at them will do.

Now I am thinking ahead. Depending on how these taste, this represents a potentially gorgeous Christmas gift for those who have tasties for hot stuff. This took me maybe three quarters of an hour start to finish (not counting time to stage photos and yes that may be hard to believe that I actually do try to stage these shots so stop your snickering. At least I try.).

If I did decide to try a large batch of these for gifts and planned ahead in order to get several additional varieties of pepper plants started in our garden this Spring, it ought not be a horribly expensive process.Especially if replacing sherry vinegar turns out to be acceptable flavor wise.

Two final bits. First, turns out peppers are buoyant as all get out. You may have a bit of gentle rearranging to do by slightly tilting the jar to get most of the peppers to stay below your liquid level. I found using the stick end of a wooden spoon helpful here. The little peppers simply want to float up to the top and stay there unless you can get them trapped under the larger varieties. That might be addressed next go-round by using a smaller jar. Without so much head space the peppers will not have room to bob about.

Last but not least, while I am happy with my photos and think they do my pickled peppers justice, I am certain even if somehow Ruhlman's wife Donna did see this post she will not be losing any sleep over the competition. The Bragg's/sherry vinegar combination I used is slightly darker than whatever they used in that photo posted to Ruhlman's blog. I think this recipe will tolerate the use of various vinegars gracefully. Champagne vinegar pickled peppers? Why not!

I will be back with an update in a few weeks to let you know if the flavor of these peppers lives up to their appearance. Meanwhile they will be classing up my refrigerator and prompting a smile every time I glance at them through the open door.


PassivePastry said...

so pretty...
i'd make them simply for aesthetic value.

Frank said...

I made these too last weekend after seeing the shot on Ruhlman's site. They look great!

TexasDeb said...

I keep turning the jar upside down so the peppers will redistribute, along with the spices.

I cannot wait to taste these (but will!).

After the fact somebody asked if you could cut the peppers up. You can. Won't look quite as pretty but won't be so floaty, either. If they taste half as good as they look there WILL be a next time!

Elise said...

Make sure you refrigerate these if you are using that recipe. For canning, you need to cook the peppers completely or you risk botulism, even with all that vinegar. According to Diana Kennedy canned chili peppers are risky unless cooked through. Think of these as the chili equivalent of refrigerator pickles.

TexasDeb said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Elise. You are quite right. These are refrigerator pickles - must stay well below room temperatures at all times (except for the ones you are eating!).