The Great Cherry Pepper Hunt of 2011

Stuffed Peppers

The week after Christmas, I was chatting with my friend Mark on IM. He was telling me about the Christmas Eve fish dinner his Mother (she is originally from Naples) made. He was running down the list, Linguine con Vongole, Fried Calamari, etc. While it sounded like a great dinner, it didn’t really excite me that much, because I am allergic to shellfish. But, all of a sudden he said “Vinegar Peppers stuffed with anchovies.” I stopped him dead in his tracks, I had to know about these peppers. As he told me about the stuffing, my mouth started to water: bread, anchovies, olives, pignoli. I had to make them.I had one question though, what kind of peppers? I figured they weren’t hot cherry peppers, but you never see sweet cherry peppers in the store anymore. He told me they were the sweet cherry peppers, but they are really hard to find. His mom keeps an eye out for them all year long, the ones she used this year (Sclafani brand) she bought in June! Still, I figured I could find them somehow, so I needed the recipe. Mark promptly got her on the phone, and transcribed the recipe into IM:

very difficult to take the stem and seeds out
slow
take stem and seeds out
very difficult
good italian bread in food processor
just the white
in the food processor also put chopped garlic and parseley
put in a bowl
add to bowl anchovies, quantity: you know, depending on phil
add to bowl capers, quantity: COME ON, same, depending on phil!!!
add to bowl olives: sliced black olives, quantity: depends
add to bowl pinnoli: quantity: depends
add to bowl shredded parmesan cheese
add to bowl olive oil
add to bowl a little water, enough to make it formeable
needs to bee done by hands
fill vinegar peppers
and then fry them UPSIDE DOWN until brown, flip and then cook bottom
let cool, very important
eat!!!

Not exactly a precise recipe, but that’s pretty much how my father always gives me recipes, so I could work with it. Now I had to procure the hard to find sweet cherry peppers. I knew I could probably order them over the internet, but I wanted to try finding them in a store if I could, for two reasons: first I didn’t want to have to pay for shipping, which can be kind of high with food products. Second, the thrill of the chase!

I tried every local supermarket, nothing. Checked deli’s and food specialty stores. Even called places I knew carried Sclafani products, “You mean Hot Cherry Peppers,” they asked? Talking to me like I was a Martian. Having no luck, I turned to the Internet. I found the Sclafani Sweet Cherry Peppers here and ordered them. I got a PayPal payment confirmation email and nothing else.

After over a month, I called the contact phone number, and got a guy on a cell phone. He informed me that the only place they are shipped from was in North Carolina, and they had been closed down since the Holidays due to a snow storm, and he did not know when they would be shipping. He then told me that if I ever wanted to order again to just call his cell phone instead of using the web site, and he would take care of me.

Needless to say, I was not confident they would ever come. So, back to the internet. I found Mezzette brand cherry peppers at www.buythecase.net (they are not there anymore), and ordered a case. They came within a couple of weeks, but the peppers were tiny and I was worried they would be too small, and a pain to stuff. The very next day the Sclafani’s showed up at my doorstep.

I decided I would try both, the tiny Mezzete peppers and the larger Sclafani. Even though the small ones were a little tougher to stuff, I got the hang pretty quickly, and I have to say I preferred them to the larger ones.

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Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Vinegar Peppers Recipe


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsely, chopped
  • 8 anchovies, chopped
  • 10 oil-cured black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmagianno-Reggiano Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1215 jarred sweet cherry peppers
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Take the white from the Italian bread and place it in a food processor, and pulse until ground coarse. Should make about 1 cup, you, may not need to use whole loaf. Add the garlic and parsley and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the anchovies, olives, capers, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil. Mix well, adding a tablespoon or two of cold water, to make it easy to handle.
  3. Using a small paring knife, cut each pepper around the stem, removing the stem, then with either the paring knife or your hands clean out the seeds, from inside the pepper. Stuff the peppers with the stuffing
  4. Fill a medium sautè pan about a quarter of the way up with vegetable oil, and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot, add peppers, top down and cook until top is browned, flip and cook a few minutes more.
  5. Transfer to a serving plate and let cool to room temperature before serving, or refrigerating for later.

12 Responses

  1. I also make the stuffed Vinagar Peppers – similar recipe but also add raisins. Gives it the sweet, sour and salty taste. This was my Mother-in-law’s recipe.

    1. I have been trying to get this recipe for stuffed cherry peppers for years. My mom made them Xmas eve along with all the fish I know there where raisins in them but not anchovies. Do u have a recipe also I can’t find vinegar peppers anywhere. I live in CA

  2. My family have been making these stuffed papers for as long as I can remember. However, we do not fry them but bake them in the oven. I add a couple of strips of anchovy on top of some of them because not everyone likes anchovies. Also, I serve these with honey to drizzle on top. Delicious!

  3. My family has been making a similar recipe adding the raisins also. However my grandmother always added home game red wine to the stuffing.

  4. I have the recipe from Naples that my father’s mother got from an old Italian nun – the name of the recipe is named after the nun – Mother Angelina Stuffed Vinegar Peppers (very old). Your recipe covers the basics but is missing a few things and the KEY is you have to make the vinegar peppers yourself and that should be done in late August or early September and then the peppers are ready by Christmas time.

  5. OMG! This recipe is the first I’ve seen that comes even close to my family’s Christmas Peppers, which has raisins, walnuts and molasses. We use whole sweet red and green pickled peppers. Very difficult to find in Maine. SO wish we thought of bringing a few jars home from FL in April but didn’t know Covid would keep us from traveling. Good news is I can buy Cento brand online. The shipping costs about what the peppers cost but this is a Christmas tradition so it’s worth it!

  6. Hello, I can’t believe I found this recipe online. We make these peppers every year for Christmas Eve but I have to let you in on a tip. We “put up” our own peppers that we get from a local farm; cheese peppers. Around Thanksgiving time we put the peppers in a large mason jar with garlic, white vinegar, water, oregano and salt. We let them sit until Christmas Eve. They are heavenly. They are larger than a cherry pepper and smaller than a bell pepper. They are just right.

  7. My best friends family makes these!!!! They are so delicious! I think I have the recipe….. I believe you mix bread crumbs….garlic….honey…..sliced black olives with the juice….raisins….and pine nuts….. and mix adding cold water to make it easier to stuff….as you are doing this…..you boil some red wine….and as the wine cools you add it to the stuffing….. and then you stuff all the peppers making sure to take out stems and seeds….. place peppers on a baking sheet with some evoo and water cover with foil bake for 20 minutes at 350 take out uncover the peppers and place back on the oven for another 10 minutes at 280 they are the most delicious things I have ever eaten!!!!

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