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FoodMan

Stuffed Chilies in oil

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Just like any other cuisine, there are so many lovely Lebanese/Middle Eastern dishes that are unknown to most non natives. Basically we see the ubiquitous Hummus and other dips, Tabooli, Falafel, some Kebabs and other grilled items all over but that is it. So, I will try and introduce some of these less known food items that I grew eating or learned about recently in this forum. Hopefully, and if there is interest I can start a new thread about an item on a regular basis.

This thread’s feature is “nut stuffed chilies”. A few weeks ago when the Hatch chili season was in its prime I bout a batch of large wonderful looking New Mexico chilies and on deciding what to do with them I remembered a mezza item that I have not had for a while and that my grandmother always seemed to have a supply of, long chilies stuffed with a mixture of nuts (peanuts usually), garlic, hot chopped chilies and parsley. These are then preserved in olive oil and are ready to eat within a couple of weeks. I used to eat them sliced with pita bread and sometimes toss them with tomatoes for a semi-salad, but they really are an all-time mezza favorite especially if they are on the spicy side. I will take a couple of pictures and post them to this thread soon. Here is the recipe as I made it:

“Oil Preserved Stuffed Chilies”

12 long straight New Mexico chilies

1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

minced hot chilies, to taste (optional)

Salt

Olive oil to cover the chilies in the jars, about 1 liter

1/2 cup Red Wine or distilled white vinegar

- Clean the chilies and cut of the stem end, use a spoon to remove most of the seeds

- Mix the nuts, garlic, parsley and minced chilies. Season with salt.

- Stuff the chilies with the nut mixture.

- Pack the chilies in large jars, with the cut side facing up. Basically they should look like they are standing on their point end side by side.

- Cover with olive oil till the chilies are fully covered. Top each jar with about 2 Tbsp vinegar.

-Seal the jars. These should be ready to eat in a couple of weeks. They do get softer as they age, but they are tasty non the less.

Elie

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Sounds very tasty, Elie. I hope you post pictures soon.

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Elie, sounds amazing, i'm ready to try them asap and have couple of questions:

-what kind of oil - can i use evoo, or it's too strong and the mild one is preferable?

- sealed, does it mean just covered (i'm planning to use tall mason jars) or one needs to go through the hassle of pasterization and stuff?

Thank you, Helena

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Elie, sounds amazing, i'm ready to try them asap and have couple of questions:

-what kind of oil - can i use evoo, or it's too strong and the mild one is preferable?

- sealed, does it mean just covered (i'm planning to use tall mason jars) or one needs to go through the hassle of pasterization and stuff?

Thank you, Helena

As far as oil is concerned I use an extra virgin olive oil but not a high end one. Something that tastes good is prefered since the end product is quiet oily and you will be eating it uncooked.

Well, I also use mason jars or empty pickle jars and I do not really go through the process of pasteurizing as if I'm doing jam. The oil is a good enough preserving medium for me, but you can go ahead and process the jars in boiling water if u like, it should't hurt the product. Also make sure the stuffing is on the SALTY side, and sprinkle a little salt inside the chilies before stuffing, I forgot to mention that.

Let me know how it turned out or if you have any other questions.

Elie

P.S. I have not forgotten about the pictures, My computer needed to be formatted and I lost my digital camera software, I will post them as soon as I re-install the camera software.

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I am still getting jalapenos from my bushes, can I perhaps use them as a substitute for the New Mexican variety. I realize there will be a flavor difference. but will the heat difference make a drastic change. If not, then I am on it Monday.

Also, do I need to process them in a water bath after closing the jar?

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Joiei-

Sure u can use Jalapenos, and like you said the only difference is probably in flavor and maybe texture since they are more "meaty". This is not a bad thing and with their size they make a good appetizer. So, go ahead and use what you have and let us know how it turned out and if you ahd any problems.

As for processing in a water bath here is what I told Helenas:

Well, I also use mason jars or empty pickle jars and I do not really go through the process of pasteurizing as if I'm doing jam. The oil is a good enough preserving medium for me, but you can go ahead and process the jars in boiling water if u like, it should't hurt the product. Also make sure the stuffing is on the SALTY side, and sprinkle a little salt inside the chilies before stuffing, I forgot to mention that.

Elie

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Ok, better late than never. Here are pictures taken yesterday. Sorry about the less than stelar quality:

gallery_5404_94_1096515655.jpg

gallery_5404_94_1096515846.jpg

Elie

edit to fix the image

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Yummy. Elie, do you live in NM? I miss the green chiles so... But maybe I'll try this with the long, thin peppers at my greengrocer that are billed as "Italian" (like every other vegetable...suspiciously). I made some beans with them recently, and the flavor took me straight back to Egypt, so they might hit the spot for this recipe too.

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Zora-

I live in Houston, TX and we get those NM chillies when in season. You can use any chilli you like though as long as they are a good size and meaty.

Elie

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Elie, I got the peppers this weekend and thought I was all ready to roll, then realized I hadn't gotten the nuts! Before I trot back to the store I have questions:

1. Should the peanuts be dry-roasted or the more standard, somewhat oily, canned roasted peanuts? Does it matter?

2. Does this work for other nuts as well? I'm thinking walnuts, for instance.

3. How finely should the stuff be chopped?

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Elie, I got the peppers this weekend and thought I was all ready to roll, then realized I hadn't gotten the nuts!  Before I trot back to the store I have questions:

1. Should the peanuts be dry-roasted or the more standard, somewhat oily, canned roasted peanuts?  Does it matter?

2.  Does this work for other nuts as well?  I'm thinking walnuts, for instance.

3.  How finely should the stuff be chopped?

1. Dry Roasted and unsalted is what I use. The stuff in the can is oily and usually salted, right? I guess it could work, but I've never tried it.

2. Walnuts are perfect as a substitute, and actually regarded as the more luxurious filler compared to peanuts since they are more expensive. However, IMO peanuts have a much better flavor in this preparation.

3. the nuts should be coarsly chopped or crushed, no need to spend too much time on them. I actually crush them in my large Thai mortar and pestle. As for the garlic, parlsey and hot chillies, these need to be fine since it is not too cool to get a huge chunk of garlic in one bite :smile:.

Keep us updated and I hope you like it.

Elie

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Excuse me for hijacking the post (sort of), but this is about chillies stuffed with peanuts, so I'd just like to say that we do have a similar appetizer too. However, the chillies are stuffed with a mixture of finely shredded raw (unripe) papayas, chopped roasted peanuts, and pounded fried dried shrimps. These are then soaked in sweetened vinegar. Drool.....

Edit: I just realized I made a boo-boo, by posting without looking at the heading/forum. I went headlong into this thread at View New Posts. Please feel free to remove this.


Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

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TP(M'sia), I don't think you hijacked the thread too much. Thanks for the idea!

I made my first batch of stuff preserved peppers according to Elie's recipe last night, and now I have questions! (I also have comments and pitfalls, if anyone's interested, but I won't bore the general readership with that stuff unless asked. I get carried away. :rolleyes: )

My first question is, Elie, how will I know when the peppers are done? Do I just wait two weeks and then start opening?

My second question, closely related to the "wait two weeks" bit, is the result of the dreaded mental Food Police who visited me in the night whispering about garlic in oil and anaerobic bacteria and botulism. I hate when this happens! As a rule I think the Food Police are a bit too alarmist for me - I eat rare steak, runny egg yolks, and ice cream made with raw eggs. Still, the specter of botulism makes me ask: will I dare eat these peppers when they're finished? I forgot to put salt into the peppers before I started stuffing them. The filling itself is fairly salty. I added red vinegar at the end (a bit more than 2 tbsp each jar) and watched it all drop to the bottom of the jar, where it of course won't mix with the oil. Will these peppers be safe to eat, and are there things I can do to improve the safety? Shake the jar from time to time to redistribute the vinegar? Refrigerate the whole thing? Start eating them tomorrow?

They really are works of art, and I hope I didn't botch the recipe too badly to eat them. Here's what they look like right now, although the photo doesn't do them justice. The green is a more vivid peppery green, almost like jewels under the oil.

gallery_17034_186_1097176519.jpg

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First let me tell you glad I am that you decided to try this recipe. The pictures lokk great and they are very hard to botch. It is fantastic. Second, please, please do share any comments and pitfalls with us, they will not bore us I assure you. I make this recipe the way I saw my grandmother make it since I was a child so I might instinctively do things and forget to write them down. So do share.

To answer the “donness” question; it really varies and you can certainly eat them within a week or even less. I just think they need some time for the flavor to develop. The color is a good indicator, the peppers should be more pale green than "vivid" green when they are ready. If you cannot wait then go ahead, open one in a week and see how you like it. After that keep it in the fridge since un-oil-covered areas tend to get mold.

Now, to your safety question. This is a tough one and I read my share about what you are talking about and seen Alton Brown on TV warning against it and such. Sometimes I too wonder if I am playing with fire. So, the first advice is yes shake the jars gently every couple of days, I do that (one of the things I forgot to mention), but I am not sure this helps with the safety issue, I think of it as a flavor enhancer. My thing is that I have been eating chilies and eggplants (makdoos) stuffed with this mixture since I was a kid and I’ve never heard of anyone getting sick from it, ever.

It is not just a Lebanese thing, I have a great preserved eggplant slices recipe from one of Mario Batali’s books that also uses slices of garlic and preserves everything in oil. Sorry, I know this might not be very comforting to you but it’s all I can honestly say. If you are really worried about eating them then maybe another batch can be made by substituting another flavor for the garlic (shallots maybe), and you can FedEx the batch you made to me :smile:.

Elie

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Also check out rien's thread, I bet you those walnut and garlic/chili flake eggplants were preserved in oil (aka makdoos) :smile:.

Elie

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Thanks for all the answers, Elie! I appreciate your offer to protect me from myself, but after reading your answer I think I'll take my chances with this batch. :wink:

OK, here are 4 things I learned making this recipe the first time. They should have been obvious, but sometimes I'm a bit dense.

1. Pick the straightest chilis you can find. Curved chilis are harder to seed and harder to stuff.

2. Cut the chilis short enough to fit into the jar below the neck! (Now really, shouldn't I have figured that out first? :hmmm: I had to cut the top inch off a couple of chilis after I'd already stuffed them!) The corollary to this is, don't bother buying really long chilis unless you have a really tall jar.

3. Do use a spoon to clean out the seeds, as noted in the original instructions. I tried using a knife to cut the web that holds the seeds, and it didn't work as well. I kept cutting the wall of the pepper. A long-handled spoon (like you use for iced tea) worked well.

4. Put enough peppers into each jar that they push against each other without squeezing out their filling. That way they'll hold each other in place when the oil is added. The first time I added oil all the chilis floated to the top because they weren't packed in tightly enough. I had to add another pepper or two to get them to stay in place. By the way, this saves a bit on how much oil you need to do the recipe.

If you have nut mixture left over, you can throw some in the bottom of the jar (I think that will taste great) or mix it in with that night's dinner pilaf. :smile:

I would love to have a preserved eggplant recipe - hint, hint - :cool:

Edited for spelling


Edited by Smithy (log)

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Thanks for the tips, each and everyone of them is spot on, especially the straight chilies.

the eggplant (assuming you are not talking about the Mario Batali one)recipe is very simple and similar to this one. Pick the small eggplants, you know the ones sometimes labeled Indian eggplant. they should be about 2-3 inches long and not more than an inch in diameter. Wash them, cut of the green stem and blanch in boiling water till they are a little limp but not soft. They should still be quiet firm and crunchy. Drop them in ice water until cooled. Now, make a pocket in each eggplant by cutting a slit lengthwise without cutting all the way through to either end or the back. Salt the eggplant and their pocktes generously. Put them in a colander, put a plate on top and a heavy weight (a brick or some cans) on top of the plate. Let them drain overnight.

now they are ready to stuff and they should be pretty flexible. Wipe away excess salt, stuff with the nut stuffing, and preserve in oil and vinegar.

Let me know if you have any other questions and please do report how the chilies come out as well.

Elie

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I bet you those walnut and garlic/chili flake eggplants were preserved in oil (aka makdoos) :smile:.

Indeed they were. Right now I've got a jar of cucumbers pickling with garlic, eggplant slices with garlic and greek oregano and some peppercorns in oil, and a batch of these peppers in oil. I've eaten a lot of garlic and preserved items with garlic over the last year and haven't be struck down by toxins or bacteria yet.

Random commentary.

1. For peppers, I chose banana peppers for their fleshiness and straightness. Sure, some are bent, but if you're picky you can get some that are straight. Another note would be to not only pick those that are straight, but wide down as far down as possible. Big diameter differences between top and bottom are not good. Again, alll this makes stuffing easier and they fit in the jar and stand up more easily. If they taper a lot, they tip and you've got a lot of empty space at the bottom to fill with oil.

2. That said, what do you do with the oil afterwards? Cook with it? Seems acceptable. I'd hate to throw it out.

3. When seeding, a long handled spoon works well. Turn it around and use the handle for reaching narrow points, dislodging ribs inside the peppers, and for packing in the stuffing.

4. Leave a gap at the top and don't totally fill with oil ... otherwise, you'll spill oil all over when trying to remove the peppers.

STUFFED EGGPLANTS

There are a few recipes in Roden's book - one with garlic and pepper flakes in the slit of baby eggplants (preserved in vinegar) and the other for eggplants in oil with walnuts and herbs. There is a non-stuffed version where they are poached in vinegar and then layer in a jar with greek oregano and garlic and covered with oil. If you cut the eggplant into rounds rather than lengthwise they pack nicely into the jars.

Other than these, I've found it easy to improvise. The method - described in more depth in a previous post - is basically to boil small to medium eggplants, let them cool and dry, make a deep slit down one side and stuff them. Any combination of nuts, salt, herbs, spices is fair game. What you stuff them with makes a big difference on whether you'll want to preserve them in vinegar or oil. Vinegar seems a bit more restricting. For example, I wouldn't really want nuts in anything I was preserving in vinegar. How about walnut, cilantro and a bit of coriander in oil? Or garlic and red pepper in vinegar with some dill and whole peppercorns dropped in the vinegar. If you choose slightly bigger egplants, you can scoop out some of the meat and dice it with the mixture that you're going to stuff it with. I've seen cookbooks advise this when baking eggplant, but not when preserving. It works well for both. I bet you could stuff them with cooked rice as well. Or frika. Now that I think about it, the smoky taste of frika and diced olives and parsley might be great in eggplants in oil.

My point is, once you've got the method down, improvisation is simple ... for example, you could probably do the same things with zuchini.

Ciao,

rien

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Rien-

All these "preserves" and pickles sound amazing. I cannot believe how much of those you must be consuming :smile:. I've been looking in stores for small cucumbers suitable for Lebanese pickles with no success lately. I ran out about 2 months ago.

Thanks for your tips, the bannana peppers do indeed make good stuffed preserved chilies. As for the oil left over, you really do not end up with as much oil as you think. A big portion of the oil will be removed when you remove a pepper or two at a time to eat it. The leftover (maybe 1/4 cup) is usually filled with little pieces of the stuffing and I love it as a dip for pita bread. I've never tried cooking with it but I do not see why one cannot.

I like your improvisation ideas, well most of them. I am not too sure about preserving rice stuffed vegetables. I would think that the rice (I'm assuming u meant cooked) would just get too soaked and mushy with oil. Also the zuchinni does not strike me like a preservation friendly vegetable, mainly because of texture. But hey, if you are willing give it a try and let us know.

Elie

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I like your improvisation ideas, well most of them. I am not too sure about preserving rice stuffed vegetables. I would think that the rice (I'm assuming u meant cooked) would just get too soaked and mushy with oil. Also the zuchinni does not strike me like a preservation friendly vegetable, mainly because of texture. But hey, if you are willing give it a try and let us know.

Yes, I go through quite a lot of preserves/pickles. I'm a marathon runner and a triathlete, so I think I eat my body weight in fruits/grains/vegetables every week. I also give away around 1/4 to 1/3 ... a gread way to earn karma and share joy.

I'm not certain how grains would work either. I share your skepticism ... but that only makes me more curious to give it a shot. There's something appealing to me about the improbable combination or process that turns out well. Of course, discovering that improbable combination means trying a lot of things that are as bad or awkward as one would imagine them to be. Ahh, the adventure!

Zuchini migh work ok in vinegar. Probably not in oil. Seems like omatoes would work well in oil. Trying to think of what I'd stuff them with. I suppose if I used roma tomatoes I could use the pulp, sans seeds, along with nuts/herbs/salt.

rien

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This thread is turning more interesting by the day. I see what you mean about the zucchini, they could work in vinegar.

I also like the idea of tomatoes. I would suggest to oven dry them before preserving, especially if you are doing it in oil. I say this because tomatoes are very "wet" and oven drying for a few hours will reduce the water content resulting in better texture and more adequate preserving environment.

Elie

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What a great thread! Rien has added some great ideas, and between the two of you I'm feeling much better about the oil and toxins question.

Thanks for the eggplant information, both of you. Rien's comments on the eggplant have me just about convinced as to the fate of the oversized eggplant I've sitting in my refrigerator. I've been too busy to cook lately (since just about the pepper-stuffing time) and the eggplant is just sitting there, getting older. Very frustrating.

As to what to do with the oil when the peppers are finished, I have 3 plans for it:

* Cook with it

* Make salad dressing with it

* Dip bread in it

No way is that wonderful nutty stuff going down the drain.

Hmmm. I have some roasted peppers waiting to be sliced and stuffed into oil so I can use them in my cookery. Think I'll add some herbs to the mix. The possibilities are endless, aren't they?

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<Rien's post snipped, in order to get to the point>

... Any combination of nuts, salt, herbs, spices is fair game. ...I bet you could stuff them with cooked rice as well. Or frika. Now that I think about it, the smoky taste of frika and diced olives and parsley might be great in eggplants in oil.

Ooh, a new ingredient! :biggrin: I can probably look it up, but that's no fun: what's frika? Where might I get some, and how would I generally use it?

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I figure that the vinegar would acidify the jars to the point any possible botulin issues would be prevented, but am wondering if the chiles might shield the inner stuffing from the vinegar. It would seem the stuffing is not very acidic to start...

Always get concerned when fresh veggies are stored in oil...

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