Every year in early September I do the exact same thing, either because I’m crazy, or because I love the taste of pepper confit. I’m sure it’s a bit of both, though the crazy part didn’t occur to me until this morning at 6:30 a.m. when I found myself mincing a kilo (2 pounds) of Doux des Landes (capsicum annum doux longues des Landes) peppers. Fiona had just left for school, I was marvelling over the radio reports of various political idiocies from around the world, and suddenly my peppers which had seemed so bright and friendly had taken on a formidable air. If you’ve ever minced a kilo of peppers, you know what I mean. It is not a task for the faint of heart.
The result is worth it, though, because when the minced peppers have cooked for an hour in their little bath of olive oil, they transform into an ethereal condiment that highlights everything from feta cheese to your finger. I can’t get enough. Each year I make one batch, share it with Baptiste Bourdon, the farmer who grows these amazing peppers, and keep the rest to eke out over the two weeks it stays perfectly fresh, lively, and bright.
I could always make more; I could always try to freeze or preserve it. But it’s like all good things that come around just once a year – it wouldn’t be the same if I could have it whenever I wanted. Pepper confit, made with care and love and just a little bit of craziness, is a blast of warmth and flavor produced by summer sun. It will never taste better than right now.
If you can’t get the same pepper I use, I suggest you make this with Red Rocket (capsicum annum) peppers. They’ll give a very similar result. And if you have some leftover peppers use them raw in salads, cut them larger and strew them atop a pizza before it goes in the oven, or add them to your next vegetable sauté. They’re gorgeous all ways.
Note: the definition of “mince” is to cut something into about 1/8-inch cube. The peppers are a bit smaller than that – cut them as small as you can. Avoid the food processor – it doesn’t do a uniform job.
NOTE: IF YOU COME TO A COOKING CLASS AT ON RUE TATIN IN SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER, WE’LL MAKE THIS AND YOU CAN TAKE SOME HOME WITH YOU!
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds peppers trimmed, seeded, white pith removed, minced, 1kg
- Fine sea salt -- optional
Place the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet so that the peppers are in a thick (about 2-inch;5cm) layer in the pan. Place over medium heat, and when the peppers begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to low. Stir, cover, and cook until the peppers are very tender and almost creamy, 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes, and making sure they don't brown. Remove from the heat and season with salt if desired. Eat this warm or at room temperature. It will keep well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.