Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fermented Smoked Jalapeños

Its been chili time around the desert SW for the past month or so and we have been inundated with Hatch Chiles, jalapenos and all kinds of other peppers that are being harvested. In my own garden I'm picking the third or fourth harvest of jalapenos, serranos, and Cayenne peppers. Normally I just dry them and save for grinding into fresh chili powder throughout the year, but I was feeling a bit inspired when prepping them this year.

Ive long been really interested in smoked meats, but I'm usually so busy with my other three hundred hobbies that Ive never really given it a try. I do a lot of grilling, but nothing low and slow. Well I recently came into a lot of pecan and hickory wood and really needed to find a good use for it. Honesty after thinking about it I couldn't find a better one than smoking a pork shoulder! I grabbed a few tips from one of my favorite BBQ blogs, and stole the great idea of a using a sour beer for the mop!

Well how does all that tie into fermented peppers?

So all day long I'm picking and prepping chilies, and the amazing aroma hickory smoke and slow cooking pork was making me salivate. Then an idea occurred to me, why not smoke my chilies? and ferment them? The thought of tangy smokey jalapeno slices on top of tacos, nachos and everything else sounded far too good to pass up. So I grabbed about 4lbs of jalapenos (2lb whole, 2 sliced)and tossed them in the barbecue along with another couple pieces of hickory. I'm betting that the jalapenos will add some of their flavor to the shoulder as it smokes as well.

Now these wont quite be chipotle peppers, as those are typically cold smoked or over very low heat (140-160F) and I'm smoking them around 250F. Chipotles are also typically mature jalapenos (red) and are smoked for 12+ hours to dry them out, which I wont even try coming close to. I want some moisture left in the peppers so that they hopefully hold their shape, if not I will blend them and make a sauce.

After smoking for about 1hr, I pulled the peppers out and let them cool on a tray. I then added them to a jar and topped up with a weak brine solution. I didn't expect really any natural bacteria to be left on the peppers after smoking at 250F, so I added the lees of some fermented pickles I had on hand. The peppers will ferment for about a week or so before I lid them up and toss in the fridge.

Pickled and Smoked Jalapeños
  • 4lbs Green Jalapenos - chopped
  • 2.5% Salt brine - ~25grams of salt per quart of water
  1. Chop jalapenos
  2. Smoke over a hickory fire for ~1hr
  3. Allow to cool to room temp
  4. Add to quart sized jars and top up with brine
  5. Add lees from another fermented vegetable
  6. Place a heavy weight on the jalapenos so that none are within 1" of the top
  7. Cover with a zip lock baggie to protect from fruit flies etc
  8. Ferment at room temp (<80F) for 1 to 2 weeks
  9. Refrigerate and Enjoy

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