Welcome back to our series Market Fresh, in which we take a look at one ingredient that's showing up in the city's Greenmarkets right now and tell you what to do with it. Last week, we looked at wax beans, and today we're cooking with jalapeno peppers.
Jalapenos are one of the more common hot peppers out there, and they don’t always get the respect they deserve—cheese-filled jalapeno poppers and mushy, canned versions immediately come to mind. Fresh jalapenos are one of late summer’s delights—hot enough to give your throat a little kick, but not so incendiary as to cause heart palpitations, they’re good raw, roasted or stewed. (For what it’s worth, jalapenos place anywhere from 2,000-8,5000 on the Scoville spicy scale; for comparison habaneros hit around 200,000.) We spoke to Kip's Bay Mexican standby El Parador Café’s chef, Jose “Alex” Alejandro, to find out what he does with the peppers.
Alejandro says: "Legend has it that the original owner of El Parador put this recipe together while in college. One evening while in his dorm room and hungry he opened his fridge and realized that the only two things in there left to eat were some pickled jalapenos and a jar of peanut butter. That evening a star was born…." Alejandro's gussied up the original recipe a bit, but it's still easy to make at home.
El Parador Café's Jalapenos Rellenos
6 jalapeno peppers (red or green)
2 cups water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dry oregano or one sprig fresh
1/2 red onion, cut into one-inch squares
3 garlic cloves
1/2 carrot cut into rounds (1/4 inch thick)
1/2 cup Skippy chunky peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste
Cut a slit lengthwise on the jalapenos careful not to go too far. Press on both ends to open the slit and clean the insides of seeds and vein with the help of a small spoon or blunt knife.
In a pot place the cleaned chiles, water, vinegar , oregano, garlic, onion and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook till the jalapenos are tender but not too cooked. (You want a bit of a bite).
Strain and cool reserving the onion, garlic and carrots to the side.
Fill the cavity in the jalapenos with the peanut butter.
Broil in toasted oven till they have a nice char on the outside and peanut butter starts to melt. Remove from the heat.
Serve alongside the chilled picked vegetables.
Alejandro says: "Pairs perfectly with a cold beer or grapefruit Jarrito soda. I like the tamarind flavored Jarrito, too."