We have four rocoto (Capsicum pubescens) chillies left from our bumper Autumn harvest. Surprisingly as they are such juicy chillies, the rocoto have stored very well indeed in the top of the fridge door. It seems like a special recipe is in order. How to preserve them and make those precious last chillies count? Today is Valentine’s Day so let’s go crazy!
How about candied chillies? With the intention of adding them to some knock-your-socks off florentines.
Sounds like a plan…
Heat a 50:50 mix of white sugar and water to form a sugar syrup. Add a few extra flavourings to enhance the fruity floral flavours of the rocoto: rose essence and scrapes of tangerine zest. Next, add the sliced, deseeded chillies and bubble away.
The house fills with the aromatic scent of rose and tangerine. Then I add the chillies and begin to choke. The capsaicin explodes into the air and hits the back of my throat, ticket tickle cough, tickle tickle cough.
And yet, sniffing the vapours rising from the saucepan is irresistible. Mmm, warming and aromatic.
As the candy mixture thickens it’s time to get ready to take the chillies out. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper and find a long pronged fork for fishing. There is a fair amount of caramel left in the pan so a handful of pistachios are thrown in to make a last minute chilli nut brittle. Why not?
The caramel brittle is too hot to taste. By the time it has cooled down I find out it is also hot-spicy. Rocoto are fierce and have a long burn. Excellent flavour with the tangerine peel and pistachio though. Must remember that when I make the florentines.
All that remains is to put the matt black seeds in the germinator because it would just be rude not to.
Hmm, first question of the day, what to do with the final jar of last year’s marmalade? Next question…can I use it with chilli?
Well, bake a ham is the simple answer.
So what will we need?
a ham, a good smokey fella. We always go big when cooking a ham as it lasts for ages, freezes well and goes with pretty much anything you want.
For the boiling pot: dried casabel, whole onion, couple of tangerines, fresh bay leaf, fresh thyme sprigs, a few garlic cloves, an apple, jalapeños, allspice berries and peppercorns. Do not stress too much peeling or prepping this as it will all be discarded.
For the glaze: marmalade, mustard of your choice, black onion seeds, fresh red fruit chilli, we used a rocoto.
Soak the ham overnight as the salt levels could be high. Discard the water.
Put the ham in a big old pot, add enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Discard the water and start again. More salt management.
Add more water, the liquor flavourings: and bring to the boil again.
Reduce the heat until gently simmering. Cook for 20 mins per 500g.
Remove the ham and let it sit for 20 mins. This just lets it cool down a bit and then it is easier to handle. The remaining stock will make a wonderful pea and ham soup.
Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients together. Quantities really depend on the size of your ham.
Carefully slice away the skin. Leave the fat and score in a diamond pattern.
Gently apply the glaze, trying to get in between the criss cross lines.
Bake in a 180 0 C oven for about 30 mins. Keep checking as the sugar in the marmalade could darken quickly.
Take out the ham and try really hard not to eat it all in one go. One nibble won’t hurt though.