Pepper Relish, New England Style

01PeppersBowlbfLOI had these peppers in the fridge, and they were, frankly, NOT at their best. I had had plans for them, but stuff happened, and Sichuan Shrimp, or some other dish, didn’t, and they were going to go bad.

I hate that.

Then, I thought of the fact that I can no longer buy my New England-based wonderful red pepper relish here on the edge o’ the prairie, and decided it a good day to make my own.

•4 cups mixed peppers, seeded and diced
•1 onion, diced
•2 jalapeño peppers, sliced and quartered
•Boiling water
•1 cup vinegar
•1 cup sugar
•1 tbsp salt

03PeppersBoilingWaterbfLONote: feel free to adjust your amounts up and prepare to can this sucker – it is THAT good; this is just what I was looking to use up from my crisper drawer before it all went bad; and yielded about 3/4 pint of pepper relish. I also added whatever seeds stayed with the quartered jalapeños to the relish to add a bit of a bite. It made for an over-all sweet relish, with just a touch of a nip – perfectly reminiscent, to my mind, of a traditional New England pepper relish.

05PeppersVinegarSugarbfLOPlace your diced peppers and onion in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.

Let rest for 5 minutes, then drain and turn into a large, non-reactive pot – mine was such a small amount that I used my braising pan and it worked a treat. When I make this again (and I will) with more peppers, I’ll use my large enamel-on-cast-iron Dutch oven.

07PepperRelishbfLOStir the vinegar, sugar, and salt into the pepper and onion mixture, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring often. I will confess that I think I let my pepper relish cook a bit too long at 45 minutes, the liquid was mostly reduced and the peppers took on the look of those glacé cherries one associates with Holiday fruit cake. Still, they made for one mighty tasty, if a bit thick, relish.

Next time, 30 minutes, max, I think.

OK! Pepper relish made and stashed back in the fridge (I am NOT going to process 1 large half-pint of pickled peppers); now we’re down to the question of what to do with it?


Back in the day, pepper relish was served along with crackers and mebbe some cottage cheese as part of a relish tray when you were seated at table in any small-town restaurant worth its perfect vodka martini, Oysters Rockefeller, fried liver and onions, and (surprisingly good) veal parmigiana.

05aJewelRollsFormedSqBESTLOThat restaurant, at least in my experience, is long gone; so I decided to adapt a bit and use my freshly made batch of pepper relish goodness to add some flavor and punch to a lactose-free version of Soul Rolls.

How was it?

Folk liked this version better than the original, and just look at how the pepper relish shines kind of like jewels through the dough before it’s cooked.

Full details of what I am calling Jewel Rolls will be coming in Friday’s Parfait!; but for now you can ready your pepper relish… and mebbe prepare for tomorrow’s pineapple mustard.

You’re gonna want it for dipping.

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