It’s that time of the year…the weather is (mostly) chilly, the garden needs to be cleaned and harvested, and there are presents to make for friends. I started last week, picking up most of the peppers before the hard freeze: serranos, jalapeños and Hungarian Hot. With the serranos and jalapeños I made traditional rajas en escabeche, the classic Mexican pickled chiles with onion, garlic, carrot slices and aromatics. I have my mom’s recipe of course. Mima uses sherry vinegar, which gives lots of flavor but can be a tad overwhelming. What I made is a mish-mash version of Mima’s with some adjustments. I used a mixture of cider and white vinegar which I had on hand, plenty of good quality olive oil, Mexican bay leaves, and garden oregano.
Chiles en escabeche Makes about 3 pints, or 6 half pints
1 pound serranos or jalapeños, washed and sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sherry or cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tsps. pickling salt (kosher or sea also ok)
2 heads garlic
2 medium onions or 1 pound pearl, quartered
6 medium carrots
Bay leaves, oregano and thyme sprigs (dried is fine, too), whole peppercorns, whole allspice
Good quality virgin olive oil. I like Spanish.
Mima also likes to add all kinds of things like cauliflower, tiny potatoes, nopalitos, teeny shrooms, and other things. My pal Miguel Ravago from Fonda San Miguel has a killer recipe for this sort of thing in their gorgeous cookbook, if you are interested. These tasty chiles can be added to ceviche and seafood cocktails, are indispensable on tortas, make a great table salsa and spicy accompaniment to enchiladas, Mexican rice, and grilled meats. Make some for your friends, like I did, and tell me what you think.