The other day I ran into a friend Eva who offered me some hot chili peppers from her garden. She and her husband Al had a large harvest of hot peppers, too many for them to use. I , of course, jumped at the chance to spend a weekend cooking and experimenting with an ingredient. When the peppers arrived, I was thrilled to have a big bowl of color in my kitchen: all that red, green, orange and yellow. The first thing I quickly tried was a red chili mayonnaise that I planned to use with grilled shrimp as a main course or appetizer. I also thought that the red chili mayonnaise would be terrific to make panini’s -a fun twist on a ham and cheese. My next recipe I decided to adapt my grandmother’s beef goulash recipe and make a pork goulash, using cubes of pork with peppers and onions for a fiery dish. This meal started with a crostini of toasted bread and fresh ricotta cheese, topped with fresh chopped red chilis, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with some coarse sea salt. I wish I had a bowl of chili peppers in my kitchen every weekend and you will too when you try some of these recipes.
From by the bay wishing you the hottest of food memories!
Word of caution when cooking with chili peppers: I suggest using disposable latex gloves especially if you have sensitive skin, like I do. I also wear contacts and trust me you don’t want to place you fingers anywhere near your eyes after handling fiery peppers! The heat of the chili comes from the seeds and the membrane inside the pepper, so to control the amount of heat in your dish, I suggest removing all seeds and membranes.
Red Chili Mayonnaise
1 cup store bought mayonnaise
3 small red chilies, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend well.
Chili Ham and Cheese Panini
2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon red chili mayonnaise
3 slices virginia ham
2 slices gruyere cheese
2 slices dill pickle toppers
Heat panini press or skillet. Butter two slices of bread. Buttered sides are the outside of the sandwich. On one side of bread – not buttered spread the chili mayonnaise, add the ham , then cheese and pickles. Top with the other slice of bread , press down and then toast until cheese is melted and bread browned. Serve immediately.
Chili Pepper and Pork Goulash
3 pounds cubed pork stew meat
4 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups onions finely chopped
6 medium size assorted chili peppers without seeds and membranes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 cups chicken stock
1 jar 12 ounces of roasted red and yellow sweet peppers
Zest of 1 lemon
Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a sealed plastic bag. Add pork cubes into bag and coated with flour mixture. In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil. Sauté floured pork cubes until browned. Remove browned meat into bowl and place aside. Add remaining olive oil to pan and sauté the onions with chili peppers until softened. Add the caraway seed, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté until fragrant about one minute. Add the tomatoe paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and stock , then add the meat and roasted peppers. Bring to a boil, then lower heat , cover and simmer until very tender, approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove from heat add lemon zest and serve with noodles or rice.