Picked Peppers blog

Michael is currently on the West Coast touring colleges with his daughter.  After the college tour, he heads back home to Cleveland for a few days and then is off to Palm Beach.  The last leg of his trip leads Michael to New York.  While in New York, he will be preparing his Carolina BBQ from Twenty  and Michael Symon’s pickled chillis with help of the amazing Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan who suggested an American charcuterie dish at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) awards on April 2nd.

By the way I need give a big congratulations to both Michael and Donna for being nominated for the James Beard Foundation Award for Twenty in the General Cookbook category.  Great work you two!

Originally posted on March 4, 2009

More than a year ago, I agreed to help Michael Symonwith his cookbook.  He’d been asking for a while and I’d always wanted to but various other projects, his and mine, got in the way. Last fall time opened up for me and with Michael’s growing presence on television, his opening new restaurants in Cleveland and beyond, the time was ripe.I wanted to do this book for three simple reasons: Michael really, really, really wanted to do a book, and I wanted him have this wish. Second, I loved hanging out with him and his wife Liz, and simply being at his restaurants (Powder, more marrow please!), and a book would mean plenty of enforced hanging out time, cooking and talking about food and cooking.  Third, I loved his food.  It was dynamic and interesting and unusually simple.  Michael has a genius not only for big flavors, but for simplicity.  Or as one of his cooks put it, “Michael does great do-at-home food.”I’ve often talked about my dislike of cookbooks, particularly chef cookbooks.  Ironic that I seem to have written several of them myself, but there it is.  What I always ask myself before entering a project is why do we need another cookbook?  My answer here was because I want to know and explore this very accessible form of cooking.  Michael gives a range of restaurant preparations from pig’s ears to beef cheek pierogies (a staple at his restaurant Lola), but also plenty of family style meals, such as grilled lamb chops and roasted chicken (which is made special and fantastic with a killer salsa verde).

The book, Michael Symon’s Live To Cook, won’t be out till next fall, but Amazon has put the book up for presale now, and last week, after Donna stole my fresh batch of Michael’s pickled chilli peppers when the Cleveland sun made a rare appearance, I had to do a preview post.

I’ll write more about the book when it comes out but for now, please make these addictive pickled chilli peppers.  First, they’re beautiful and inspiring to look at.  And second they enliven everything from stews to braised short ribs to sauteed pork loin or to sharpen meats sliced for sandwiches.  Tossed with some parsley leaves, they make an incredible garnish for grilled steak.  They’re great to have on hand and keep for ages in the fridge.  But they’re really a lesson in how a little bit of intense contrasting color and flavor utterly transforms a dish, makes it vault from pretty good to out-of-this-world, can’t-stop-thinking-about-it must-have-it-now food.

Michael Symon’s Pickled Chillis

Choose a colorful variety of chillis, fresno, jalapeno, banana, tomato, serrano—the thick fleshed peppers work best.  The method is very simple, simply fill a jar with peppers, bring the pickling liquid to a simmer and pour it hot over the peppers.  You can use them once they’re cooled but they’re best after they’ve been sitting in the pickle for a few weeks.  They’ll keep for a long time–how long, I don’t know because I always use them up for I can find out.

Pickling Liquid

  • sherry vinegar
  • sugar
  • salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 sprigs of marjoram
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 to 2  pounds chillis (or enough to fill whatever vessel you’re using)
    1. Place chillis in a jar and cover them with water. Pour off the water into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half the water and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons salt for every three cups of liquid.
    2. Combine your liquid and remaining spices in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then let cool slightly. Pour the pickling liquid over the peppers, screw the lid on and refrigerate. To use, slice into rings, chop or mince depending how you want to use them.

UPDATE 4/3: Kate in NW e-mailed the following, which I’m happily sharing here.  Great idea Kate!

I just HAD to write you about this…
I made those pickled peppers you wrote about and you were right – they didn’t last long! Being of Scottish ancestry, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw away the brine, so I boiled up a dozen eggs, peeled them and plunked them in there for a week (refrigerated) while we were on vacation. THEY ARE SO GOOD!!!! Perfect for a picnic lunch – if summer ever comes. And now I won’t feel guilty about throwing away the brine, having re-used it to such great effect! Thanks again for another great recipe/technique.

If you liked this post on pickled chillis, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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46 Wonderful responses to “Michael Symon’s Pickled Chillis”

  • Mark Tigges

    FYI your “If you liked this section …” is not relevant. Awesome, but not relevant.

    • emilia

      Nice catch Mark. I had two going in the hopper ready to fire. Have a great day. :)

      • Innocent

        Hmmm. Why DO we grow so much zucchini? Last year I pleatnd two seeds, ended up with two plants only, in an effort to be conservative. I still had many pounds of excess zucchini .it just grows with such maniacal zeal. It sneaks up on you. One day you’ve got some nice zucchini flowers for stuffing and frying .a few days later you’ve got zucchini canoes on the lawn.For novice gardeners it’s kind of a rush to see just how much vegetal material you can get from one tiny seed! This looks like a good recipe, one that could be tweaked in many different ways. Awesome photo, too.

    • Gitte

      Mommyk8Please don’t do this.You have not only found Ruhlman’s site (which will teach you the right way to do things) but my mtehor’s favorite recipe. She uses Jimmy Dean sausage and then after we tell her how good it is we have to race to the back of the garden and puke over the fence.This is very time consuming. Please do not put your family through this. We all have heavy schedules to adhere to. We all love our mtehors and will never ever, ever, tell them the truth about their cooking except at our own peril.Michael has posted some very easy recipes including one for zucchini crudo, if I recall.Your family loves you. Anything you make for them with love will be much appreciated.Make it easy, make it good.If I can do it, so can you!

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    Well I want to congratulate Michael and Donna too, the ruhlmans I mean; a daughter entering college yeeks!! my own son went back this year and wouldn’t have considered anywhere but John Molson School of Business and I met hubby at McGill. In my day undergrads were always done in the city we grew up in. Now McGill takes less than 10% from its own city and the balance between Canada and the States for larger tuitions. Hey Michael/Donna don’t tell her in Quebec we are legal at 18…ssshhhh. Truly should she desire to see McGill I would be more than happy to check on her ‘weekly’.

  • Jen

    I don’t think I’m ready for pickled peppers yet, but I’m definitely giving cukes a whirl this summer, maybe even red onions.

    • Valentina

      Luisa over at The Wednesday Chef has a recipe for Diana Kennedy’s Meatballs in Tomato and Chipotle Sauce that incuedls (for 24-ounces of chopped meat) a medium zucchini finely chopped and does not breadcrumbs of any kind.Every now and then when I am making meatballs that are not that particular recipe, I substitute a finely chopped zucchini for the breadcrumbs, and it really works well.Right now the medium zucchini are thin skinned and lovely with not too many seeds, so if doesn’t sound too odd, you might want to try it.Last week I did it with a riff on my grandmother’s meatballs a beaten egg, one-half pound chopped beef, one-half pound chopped pork, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, half a medium zucchini chopped finely, and what seems like a lot of freshly grated Parmesan cheese a feathery pile on a plate mixed together, made into meatballs, and sauteed in olive oil until done. (The amount of cheese I use is what iI add until the mixture is not too wet.) I served the meatballs right from the frying pan with rigatoni tossed lightly with Marcella’s sauce that is made with tomatoes, butter, and onion on the side. It definitely was pasta and meatballs, but the meatballs were not in the sauce.

  • rob fettig

    Come late August I will have to try this technique on some local New Mexico Green Chile. I have tried pickling some Green in the past and did not like the final product. Actually thought the skin on local green chile was too thick for a pickle.

  • Ewa

    Good, great, beautiful! So many colors in a sealed jar! Is this book is available everywhere? Can I find it in Poland?

  • Julie

    I grow my own chillis in my garden every year (habaneros, serano, jalapeno, thai, cayenne, poblano, cherry) and after making hot sauces still have plenty left over each season to pickle. They last, and are delicious. Another great idea is to fill a jar with mixed chillis, then cover peppers with your favorite vodka. Keep in the fridge until needed. They taste great (almost fresh) and use the vodka in your favorite FIERY cocktails. A bloody mary made with this vodka will really wake you up on a Sunday!

    • Lauren

      Adam, unfortunately, not kidindg this time.When I go home to visit the parents, there is inevitably one meal with a giant zucchini stuffed with Jimmy Dean sausage topped with bread crumbs and a cheese(ish) topping from a plastic green can. Because my mom made it, I am grateful and I love her for it but it still is usually puked up at the end of the day because Merck and Pfizer have not yet invented a gastrointestinal sedative to circumvent Kraft and MonsantoSometimes we were recipients of this creation after it was frozen and defrosted. Then tomato sauce was put on top. Good times, good times .I think this is why my brother was a genius cook and mastered duck a l’Orange at 12 years old or so and taught me how to eat snails when he was 8. After he passed away, I had no choice but to learn how to cook. We were hungry after school and had to take preventative measures to protect ourselves from the family dinner.

  • junny

    Pretty chillis! I like the colors of these chillis, and also love eat them. Hot and exciting.

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