My sister came for dinner bearing edible treats, a large package of beautiful Mariachi Peppers in bright orangey red. They came from a farm via the Headhouse Farmers’ Market at Headhouse Square, which is the once a week outdoor market in our hood. I immediately sliced one open to taste (love heat and hot peppers). They were described to her as “not very spicy,” but I beg to differ. My pepper slice definitely rated highly on the Scoville scale.
I stared at the bowl of colorful heat on the counter for several days, watching them start to shrivel, pondering which way I was going to prepare the peppers so that my family and I could continue to enjoy them. My first idea was home made hot sauce, but I already had a jar of that lurking in the fridge. And then it came to me – a sweet, savory and spicy vision; a condiment for cheese, sandwiches, soups and more.
I simply sliced the peppers into 1″ rings with their seeds (the seeds is where most of the heat resides and I like that), and then combined 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water, 1 tsp sea salt and about 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar in a medium sized pot. I brought this simple syrup mixture to a simmer and cooked it for about 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and slightly reduce the liquid. I then added the peppers to the simmering syrup and cooked the mixture at a lively boil for about 10 minutes, until the peppers were softened and the mixture thickened. The air in my kitchen was spicy and fragrant from the peppers and vinegar.
When the pepper mixture cooled, I transferred it to a glass Ball jar and marveled at the glossy, colorful contents. The syrupy liquid is sweet, spicy and a bit tart from the vinegar. I imagine drizzling it into my soups and using it to glaze grilled or roasted meats and vegetables. I even like the idea of sparingly adding it to some super chilled tequila and lime, in the style of my favorite current cocktail “Blue Heat” at Vernick.
The pepper slices are begging to find their way onto a cracker with some sharp cheese or even better yet, into a proper Italian Hoagie on a fresh, South Philly roll.