Conserva Di Peperoni
5 kg Corno di Toro red peppers
1 Cayenne peppers (up to 2)
100 g Salt
Here's a recipe for a traditional sun dried pepper preserve from southern
Italy. It is quite hard to find in shops or market as most people stopped
using it: I've seen it sold only once, in the Vucciaria market in Palermo.
The preparation is fairly easy but time spending and it should be done when
you get hot sunny days. Haven't tried it yet but will this summer.
Seed and devein the peppers. Cut them roughly into stripes and cook in a
covered pot with the other ingredients untill most water (from the peppers)
has evaporated and the peppers are soft. Using a sieve separate the pepper
"pulp" and juices from the skin. Place the pepper sauce obtained in several
large flat plates covered with mosquito net or something similar to keep
bugs away and place all day long in direct sunlight and bring inside at
night. Stir 2-3 times a day with a wooden spoon as the drying will be
stronger near plate rim. The "conserva" is ready when it has reduced to 1
Kg - 700 g i.e. when it sticks to the spoon and remains firm. It should be
dark red. If you get rainy days you can dry it in the oven (setting it at
70-80 ?C) in one or two days.
Storage: this preparation is usually put in sterilized glass jars and
covered with a little oil. To me this seems the ideal conditions for
botulism but a friend of mine who works in a food analisys lab thinks the
salt (1/10 to 1/7 of total weight) acts as a preservative plus water
content is very low. You could anyway sterilize (maybe this has been
explained before) by wrapping the jars in old towels and putting them in a
deep pot covered with water. Bring to boil, lower heat and continue slow
boiling for 45 min.
Peppers used: Corno di Toro red are the traditional ones but this could
work well with all chiles big enough (so that seeding and deveining won't
take ages) I think NM chiles and maybe anchos too could work well.
Uses: To be used this "conserva" has to be diluted in some liquid medium
(water, milk, wine) usually 1 Tbs in 1/2 cup. I've recently tasted a pasta
dish made with conserva di peperoni dissolved in cream and then warmed over
low flame with basil: Deeelicious! Traditionally this preparation is used,
in Napoli, to make Soffritto a dish prepared with pig's lungs, heart and
liver (what 'bout some sphincters? :->).
Non-chile related topic: Last week-end in Italy ther has been the "Open
Cellars" event. Many wine makers open their cellars for guided visits, free
wine tastings, free food (only in some cellars). I've been visiting those
near Avellino and had a great time. If you happend to be in Italy in May
try to be here on the last sunday of the month as the "Open Cellars" is
repeated every year. Posted to CHILE-HEADS DIGEST V3 #339 by Alberto
on May 29, 1997