by Mitch Samples
Well folks, it’s time for the chef’s table to take a few weeks off. We’ll return on September 2nd and break into a bunch of late summer early fall recipes. I envision things like vegetable soups and maybe some pulled pork and chicken recipes. In the mean time, I want you all to think of peppers: hot peppers, sweet peppers, small peppers, and big peppers. It’s their season and they bring a lot to your kitchen. Sometimes they are the star of the show, like with a stuffed pepper. Other times, they are a the perfect sidekick — take grilled peppers and onions with sausages — a perfect meal when accompanied by some nice, fluffy rice.
Peppers are also an integral seasoning ingredient in countless foods — sometimes on their own, sometimes mixed in with other items such as Puerto Rican Sofrito, a pepper-heavy concoction that can be used as a savory season for everything from pasta to rice to beans to chicken and all things in between. A solid recipe follows below. Another great thing to do with peppers is to make a sauce. A fun sauce recipe follows as well.
(this makes a lot but it stores well packed tight into mason jars in the refrigerator)
¼ pound salt pork or bacon
1 Tbs annatto seeds
2 medium onions chopped fine
6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
3 cups sweet peppers seeded and chopped
¼ pound diced ham
½ pound chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs cilantro
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the salt pork in a heavy pan over medium heat until all the fat is rendered and the meat is golden brown. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve.
Add the annatto seed to the pan and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove the hard seed from the now reddish-colored oil.
Add the onions, garlic, and peppers to the hot oil and sauté until tender but not browned
Add the remaining ingredients including the reserved salt pork and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Season to taste, cool and store in jars in the refrigerator.
Served traditionally in Cuba with black beans, its good with almost any meat too. Makes about 4 cups.
1 cup olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp sugar
½ cup tomato sauce
2 cups chopped sweet peppers
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have disintegrated.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the vinegar and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick.
Remove from heat, add the vinegar, allow to cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender.
Be careful when blending hot liquids, they can be quite volatile.