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Not for the Faint of Heart: Pickled Peppers Stuffed with Anchovies


Some of my friends are disgusted by my eating habits. I just get excited about things that would make certain people hurl. I can live with that. When you grow up with favorite foods like lamb brains and pig’s feet, you learn to get comfortable on your lone little island. At least I had my brothers, who were as clueless about the grossness of our eating preferences as I was. We ate what our parents and grandparents made for us. They, in turn, cooked what they grew up on in Sicily: peasant food. The cheaper, leftover animal parts that the middle class couldn’t be bothered with; the vegetables and fish that were available in their village. We lived in a bubble of family and broken English, oblivious to what wafs considered strange or normal outside our door.

I have a feeling this recipe will be classified under “things that make certain people barf.” I’m sure, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat in the world: pickled hot peppers stuffed with anchovies. It’s my grandfather’s recipe—he, the master of all things vinegary and oily found in jars.

Unlike pickled eggplants, these only make an appearance every few years. And when they do, they’re all I can think about. I’d think about them at work, then come home and sneak a few before anyone could see. Then I’d slide the jar back in the fridge and wonder when I’d get to eat them again. There’s the constant struggle: Should I give in and eat them all at once, or savor them? It’s probably better for my mental health not to have these around. I live and breathe them until they’re gone, then I mourn. But still, I’m glad I finally figured out how to make them.

Be warned that pickling experts would not recommend this recipe. I’ve read in a few places that you’re not supposed to store pickled things in oil because bacteria can form. I can see that, but this is the way it’s been done at my grandparents’ house for decades, and probably decades before that. We’ve been okay. So I’m sticking with the old school way, for better or worse.

Eat these with a hunk of bread and hard cheese. It makes the perfect dinner.

Pickled Peppers Stuffed with Anchovies
1 pound hot peppers
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup white vinegar
½ pound salted anchovies
Olive oil

Cut a vertical slit down the center of each pepper. Gently scoop out the seeds, being careful to keep the pepper’s shape intact (a demitasse spoon is perfect for this).

Wash the peppers and pat them dry, then toss in a large bowl with kosher salt. Cover and set aside overnight.

After 24 hour, rinse the peppers and return them to the bowl. Cover with white vinegar, using a plate to keep them submerged. Set aside for 48 hours.

After two days, drain the peppers and rinse them again so they’re not too vinegary; pat dry. Then rinse and debone the anchovies. Prepare one anchovy fillet for each pepper (or more if you’d like, but too much can be overwhelming). Stuff each pepper with an anchovy fillets to fill the length of the pepper.




Layer the peppers in a sealable container or prop them up in a mason jar. Cover with enough olive oil to keep them submerged. Always keep these refrigerated and eat them rather quickly. Since they’re not sterilized during the “pickling” process (they’re not even officially pickled), they won’t have an infinite shelf life.


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2 Responses to “Not for the Faint of Heart: Pickled Peppers Stuffed with Anchovies”

  1. Jean says:

    I’ve had these before. I agree, they are unbelievable.

  2. Henry says:

    I never thought about this combination before, but after trying this recipe, it’s like lightning hit. Peppers and anchovies just make sense! Delicious.


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