Italy is known for its food, right? But did you also know that a region of Southern Italy is popular for its hot chili peppers?? In Calabria there is no family that doesn’t use peperoncini (hot chili peppers) or pupazzi, as they call them in our dialect.
The motto is: A meal is not tasty if it’s not at least a little hot. This extra spiciness comes in many versions. They (or shall I say we?) usually start off by using the ground red pepper while cooking. You might have already noticed that I use it in most of my recipes, too. The chili peppers are being dried in the sun during the summer months. They beautifully decorate the face of the houses. Then they grind them, which turns them into the tasty powder.
Oh, that’s not enough by far! There is more hot stuff to come! On top of that, every family has a jar of preserved peppers. They come dried and chopped, in a jar filled with olive oil, or alternatively blended into a cream with olive oil. Either way, you want to make sure you don’t pour too much on your dish, or you will need a fire extinguisher! Trust me. Then there are the super brave ones. They will top their plate with additional sliced fresh chili peppers. It gives me hot flashes just by looking at them..
So, as you can see these hot peppers are a big deal in Calabria. They even dedicate an entire annual festival to that hot little thing, that takes place in the beautiful village Diamante.
The monthly magazine Lust auf Genuss dedicated a whole edition to chili peppers and bell peppers a few weeks ago. And here is the big news: I had the chance to be part of it :)) When they asked me whether I wanted to contribute with one of my recipes, I didn’t have to think twice about it! Not only did I get a chance to present my traditional chili cream recipe, they also dedicated three pages to my blog! I bet you can imagine my excitement :) You know, that kind of excitement when you see yourself for the first time being published in a magazine. And on top of that, in a magazine that I have been collecting on my bookshelf for the past few years.
And here is the outcome!
- 250 g / 8¾ oz red hot chili peppers
- 1 handful salt
- approx. 120 ml / 4fl oz extra virgin olive oil
- Sterilize a jar for 10 minutes in a pot with boiling water. Let it drain on a clean kitchen towel until it's completely dry. Set aside.
- Wipe the chili peppers with a damp cloth. Cut off stems.
- Cut peppers into thin slices and place into a bowl. (Note: Make sure you wear a pair of gloves as they can be very hot!)
- Add the salt and mix well.
- Place a strainer in a bowl or pot.
- Pour the chili-salt mix into the strainer. Make sure that it hangs lose without touching the bottom of the bowl/pot.
- Put some weight on the chili peppers by placing a plate on top of them. Drain for 24 hours .
- Spread the peppers on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Place another towel on top, while dabbing them gently.
- Let them dry for about 1 hour.
- Blend a few seconds with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Not too creamy though, as it should still have little chili pieces.
- Fill the jar with the paste and add more olive oil, until the top is completely covered. Seal with the lid.
- As long as the jar is sealed, it will last several months. Refrigerate after opening.