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Chiles en Escabeche: A Tangy and Spicy Mexican Pickle

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Chiles en Escabeche, or Pickled Jalapeños, are a staple in Mexican cuisine, known for their tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor profile. This versatile condiment can be used to add a zesty kick to a variety of dishes, from tacos and sandwiches to soups and stews. The process of escabeche involves pickling jalapeños along with carrots, onions, garlic, and spices in a vinegar brine, creating a vibrant and flavorful addition to any meal. This method not only preserves the chilies but also enhances their natural heat and flavor, making Chiles en Escabeche a beloved accompaniment in Mexican households.

Ingredients

For the Chiles en Escabeche:
  • 10-12 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced into rings
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Vegetables:
    • Wash the jalapeño peppers thoroughly and slice them into rings. For a milder version, remove the seeds; for a spicier version, leave them in.
    • Peel and slice the carrots into thin rounds.
    • Thinly slice the white onion and peel and halve the garlic cloves.
  2. Sauté the Vegetables:
    • In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
    • Add the sliced jalapeños, carrots, onions, and garlic to the skillet. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften but still retain their crunch.
  3. Prepare the Pickling Brine:
    • In a separate pot, combine the white vinegar, water, salt, sugar, bay leaves, dried oregano, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds.
    • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar completely.
  4. Combine and Cook:
    • Once the brine is boiling, carefully pour it over the sautéed vegetables in the skillet.
    • Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the vegetables to soften further.
  5. Cool and Store:
    • Remove the skillet from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
    • Transfer the pickled vegetables and brine into sterilized glass jars, making sure the vegetables are fully submerged in the liquid.
    • Seal the jars tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop fully.

Tips for Serving

  • Serving Suggestions: Chiles en Escabeche can be used as a topping for tacos, nachos, sandwiches, and burgers, or served as a side with grilled meats and fish.
  • Storage: Store the pickled chilies in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The flavor will continue to develop over time.
  • Variations: Experiment with different types of peppers, such as serranos or habaneros, for a variation in heat levels and flavors. Adding other vegetables like cauliflower florets or green beans can also create a unique escabeche mix.

Conclusion

Chiles en Escabeche are a tangy, spicy, and flavorful condiment that brings a taste of Mexican tradition to your kitchen. Easy to make and versatile in use, these pickled jalapeños add a delightful kick to a wide range of dishes. Whether enjoyed as a topping, side dish, or snack, Chiles en Escabeche are sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire. Embrace the bold flavors and vibrant colors of this classic Mexican pickle and elevate your meals with its zesty goodness.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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