A lovely young woman, who we’ll call The Spicy Charmer, had this tongue-tingling little concoction at La Veccia, in Toronto. She described it, we chatted about it and we came up with this version of Hot Pepper Rings in Olive Oil with Garlic. Let’s face it, most of us have some sort of relationship with chiles—we either love ’em or hate ’em. This little obsession can in part be explained by the fact that our body releases endorphins in response to the burn. You know all about endorphins, right? These are the same lovely chemicals released during orgasm and the runner’s high. So now you know.
This mixture is sort of a blank canvas. You can add all sorts of good things—fresh herbs, tons of garlic, strips of citrus zest, anchovies…well, you get the picture. The Charmer who requested this recipe is near and dear to The Goddess, so this was a request she wanted to try to get right. According to The Spicy Charmer, this is it, the elixir she enjoyed at the restaurant. But, she is a Charmer and The Goddess might assume that she’s just being diplomatic, so after this, she’s on her own!!!
The long, thin chiles in the supermarket at this time of year can be quite hot, but they do have some decent flavor, too. The Charmer didn’t want this to be screaming hot, but just a good bit of heat. You know that heat is a subjective thing. So, I decided to remove most of the seeds, as these particular peppers were rather on the hot side. They still have plenty of heat. This is basically because the seeds aren’t necessarily where the heat is, but more in the internal ribs. One thing I discovered is that if you roll the chile back and forth, it loosens the seeds and they dropped out of the slices more easily. You could, of course, cut the peppers down the side (lengthwise), remove the seeds and ribs, then thinly slice the peppers crosswise…options! But, not matter how you decide to cut the chiles, WEAR GLOVES!!! Otherwise, there will be burning, as the enzyme capsaicin (that’s where the heat is) is pungent and can hang around on your cuticles for days, no matter how many times you wash with soap and water. It’s parts per billion, friends. So, you’ve been warned…heed!
Combine the pepper and the sliced garlic. Add the oil until the rings are not quite covered—I used about 1 good cup of oil for these. I decided to heat the oil and chiles together with the sliced garlic, then simmer them all together for 1 minute. Then, off with the heat, cover and let the whole mess sit for awhile. Pour into a glass jar, add extra oil if you want, pop a cover on the jar and refrigerate. Use the oil to drizzle on pizza, over pasta, to dip bread in, to sauté vegetables (or whatever), drizzle over steak or chicken or whatever you’re little heart desires. Use the peppers themselves on pizza, slices of good bread (or add to bread when baking), or toss into a salad. The peppers and their oil keep well and you can add additional oil as you use it, if that works for you.
Hot Pepper Rings in Olive Oil with Garlic
- 10-12 thin hot, red peppers
- 3-10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Pinch kosher salt
Put on your gloves (latex, rubber or whatever will work to keep your hands free of the pepper’s oil). You really want to do this, because the peppers are hot.
If you like things really, really hot, then don’t remove the seeds. But, if you want heat, but not too much, then you’re going to want to remove some of the seeds, or as many as possible. To loosen the seeds, gently roll the chiles back and forth six or eight times. Cut the stem ends off; slice the remaining chiles into thin rings.
Place the chiles in a small saucepan; add enough oil to just barely come to the top of the chile rings. Heat the oil; simmer for 1 minute. Turn the heat off, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes or up to 5 or 6 hours. Pour into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and chill. Store in the fridge. Return to room temperature before using. Keeps well, in the fridge.
NOTE: Use a good olive oil, not your best olive oil, as the heating process will affect the flavor adversely. You may keep adding oil to the jar, as you use it.
Hot Pepper Rings in Olive Oil with Garlic Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
You might want to drizzle on a little balsamic glaze, too. We’re going to place a few on our hamburgers this evening. Why not? This is a nice way to ring in the new year.