You can make your own pepper shooters, in large quantities

Ask the Chef

October 06, 2002|By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan | Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Q. I enjoy eating pepper shooters, and I buy them by the pound at my local grocery store. This year, I am growing cherry peppers so I tried to make my own pepper shooters.

I filled the peppers with provolone cheese and prosciutto, put them in a quart jar, and covered them with olive oil. After storing them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the oil became thick and looked like cheese. When I left them at room temperature for a while, the oil went back to its original state.

The grocery store shooters are in the refrigerated section, but the oil doesn't appear thick. Are these peppers packed in something besides oil? Could you give me a recipe that will hold up in the refrigerator? Also, do you blanch the peppers, and once made, how long will shooters keep in a gallon jar?

A. OK, I'm going to give you a recipe. But from what you've told me, it's going to put a huge dent in the pepper shooter business at your corner market.

Just think, based on sales to you alone, they've been ordering pepper shooters by the truckload. Once you start making these babies, they're going to have to hold a pepper shooter auction.

Let's get down to business. You are doing everything correctly as far as stuffing the peppers. As you might have guessed, you can decrease the thickening in refrigerated oil by incorporating it into a marinade.

Commercial producers do this, but they also add an agent that completely prevents the mixture from thickening. It's not something you can or would probably want to buy.

Since you can't eliminate the thickening altogether when making pepper shooters at home, I would suggest storing them in smaller jars than the gallon size you mentioned.

You can pull a pint-size jar from the refrigerator and set it on the counter, and it will take only a little bit of time before the marinade returns to the consistency you enjoy. Pepper shooters will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks.

Whether or not you blanch the peppers really depends upon how much patience you have. If you want to eat them just after a few days, then you should blanch them. If you can wait while they marinate for a couple of weeks, you don't have to.

If your homegrown peppers are big and thick, I would suggest quickly blanching them no matter when you plan to eat them.

After marinating your peppers in the following recipe, here's a neat trick you can try. Dredge your marinated peppers in a little egg wash and then in some seasoned flour.

Fry them in hot oil until they are golden. They go great over a salad. Now as far as your poor local grocery store goes, don't start thinking about stuffing your peppers with homemade cheese.

Homegrown Pepper Shooters

16 cherry peppers

1 / 3 pound grated provolone cheese

3 to 4 ounces prosciutto

salt and white pepper to taste

FOR THE MARINADE:

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic

1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.)

Whisk marinade ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl and set aside.

Remove the stems and cores (with seeds) from the peppers using a sharp paring knife. Quickly blanch if desired, then dry the peppers well with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix the cheese and prosciutto with the salt and pepper. Carefully fill each pepper with the cheese mixture and place in jars or a shallow nonreactive casserole dish. Refrigerate.

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