America’s Favorite Chili Pepper

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America’s Favorite Chili Pepper

This time of year brings your garden, grocery store and farmer’s market and abundance of jalapeno peppers, one of America’s favorite chili peppers.  Of all the chile peppers in the world, the jalapeno is a favorite because it is not too hot, not too mild and works so well in a variety of recipes.  From biscuits to beer, this bright green gem can be incorporated into just about anything.  Take advantage of jalapeno harvest time by drying, freezing or pickling them while they are at their freshest and most affordable.

Freezing:

*It’s not necessary to cook your jalapenos prior to freezing.  Simply wash the peppers well in a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar.  Rinse with water and dry well.  Fill a zip top bag with the washed jalapenos and place in the freezer.  After you thaw them, the skins usually come off quite easily and the flavor is still robust.

Air Drying:

*Clean and dry your jalapenos thoroughly using the water/vinegar solution stated above.  String them together on a strong thread (Paula likes fishing line) a few inches between each pepper so the air can circulate around them.  Hang the peppers in a dry warm place with direct sunlight.  This method will take several weeks, but the peppers are beautiful to have hanging and the final result is really worth it.  Once dry, grind the peppers up in your food processor to make your own jalapeno powder.  Place in a beautiful antique spice jar, your jalapeno powder would make a wonderful gift from your kitchen.

Quick Pepper Pickling:

*Be sure to wash and dry your jalapeno peppers before pickling them. Also, sterilize any jars and jar lids before using. Boil them on the stove for half an hour.
Easy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
Ingredients:
• 1 pound jalapeno peppers, with holes poked in the sides
• 1 one-pint jar with lid (sterilized)
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• Brine solution (1 pint vinegar, 1 pint water, 2 T sugar, 5 T salt)
Instructions:
In a medium sauce pan, bring brine solution to a boil.  In a separate sauce pan, blanch peppers for 4 minutes in boiling water. The holes will keep the peppers from collapsing. Add the peppers to the sterilized jar.  Add the peppers to the sterilized jar.  Add onion, garlic, carrot slices, oregano, thyme and olive oil.  Pour boiling brine solution into jar covering jalapeno mixture.  Cap the jar and drop into boiling water for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and refrigerate. 

Take advantage of the seasons bounty and put up some peppers!  If you need some of America’s favorite chili peppers now, try this recipe from our favorite hot peppers Bobby and Jamie Deen.  It’s from their new cookbook, Take It Easy.  This, their third cookbook, is filled with quick and affordable meals you and your family are bound to love as much as we do.
Grilled Bacon and Cheese Jalapeno Poppers (page 84)
Serves 4
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 large jalapeno peppers
8 strips bacon

1. Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat the broiler.  If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Soak 16 wooden toothpicks for at least ½ hour.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro.
3. Using a paring knife, cut the top off each pepper an reserve.  Scoop out the veins and the seeds, discarding both.  Stuff the cheese mixture inside the peppers, packing it tightly.  Replace the caps.
4. Using a toothpick, skewer the peppers lengthwise from the bottom through the cap.  Wrap a slice of bacon top to bottom around each pepper, covering the cap, and secure with a toothpick.  Place the peppers on the grill or, if broiling, place on the prepared baking sheet.  Grill or broil, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes total or until the bacon is crisp and the peppers are tender.

Other jalapeno recipe links:

Cheesiest Fried Chicken Empanadas with Chili Con Queso Dip
Chicken Empanadas
Uncle Bubba’s Seafood Nachos
Lime Marinated Chicken Wings with Avocado Dip

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