Home-growing is an occupation that I leave entirely to my green-thumbed husband. It’s not that I don’t see the appeal of gardening and I’m not attracted to such rewarding labour, but I must admit I was born with a black thumb. I don’t seem to have inherited my mum’s natural flare for all things green and I am, alas, responsible for the atrocious death of many innocent flower beds, herbs in pots and the occasional tomato plant, that I have had to surrender my resignation. I limit myself to the occasional watering, the picking and, naturally, the cooking with the bounty that my garden produces under Richard’s watchful eyes. his year he propagated a fecund and lush chili plant from seeds he dried and preserved last year (see what I’m dealing with?), and now our autumnal veggie patch is specked with hundreds of green and red fruits, hiding their potent heat within their plump, shiny flesh.
1 green-thumbed husband
800 gr (1.7) of mixed chilies
4 cups of extra-virgin olive oil (or enough to fill up the jar you wish to use)
1. Wash the chilies and spread them on an oven tray big enough to accommodate them in one layer. Make sure to line the tray with baking paper.
You have two options here: the one that suits the patient and gracious people, and the one made to please the not-so-patient ones!
If you belong in the first category (my respects):
2. place the tray in the sun everyday for 20-30 days, until the chilies are dry.
2/a. For those, like me, you cannot be asked… every time after you use the oven, place the tray inside while its cooling. The residual heat will quickly dry the chilies.
If you do this over a weekend during which you plan to bake a roast, some cookies and perhaps even some bread, that should give you enough residual heat to dry your chilies completely. You know they are ready when they feel dry, hollow and feather-light. My 800 gr (1.7 lb) reduced to a mere 150 gr (0.3 lb)!
3. Roughly chop them with a knife or with scissors.
4. Put them in sterilized glass jars and submerge them in extra-virgin olive oil.
5. Leave them in a cupboard, away from direct light, for a minimum of 3 weeks before consuming.
You will notice that the heat will increase and concentrate over time. You can use chili oil to add a bit of zest to any food you love, but I particularly like to add it to soups and some pasta sauces.
If you have an abundance of basil in your garden, here’s my basil-infused oil.
- Kitchen Crusades: The Case of Fresh Spices Versus Dried (mynewplace.com)
- How to Make a Knockout Chili Without a Recipe (esquire.com)
- Healthy and Tasty Mexican Flavors for Superbowl Yummies or Anytime (simplysophisticatedcooking.wordpress.com)