Friday, November 22, 2013

Hungarian Wax Pepper

     "What's that called?" The asker was a grocery checker at a supermarket I visit infrequently, a man who appears hard-used by life and who, when asked, "How are you?" invariably responds, "Unstoppable!"

     He was stumped by the pepper, though, an innocent-looking, smallish, waxy-yellow vegetable.

     I wasn't much help at first.  "I'm not sure.  There wasn't a label on the bin...  It was next to the jalapenos.  It could be...a Hungarian pepper?"

     He'd left it for last; now he picked up the laminated list of obscure, un-barcoded vegetables, and scanned it rapidly.  "A Hungarian wax pepper?"

     A dim light came on in my head, like the tiny bulb in a 1940s Shelvador fridge.  "Yes!  That's it."

     "I think that's the first time anyone's bought a Hungarian wax pepper at my lane. Interesting."

*  *  *

     I'd been picking up the makings of "Hoppin' John" when I bought the pepper: diced ham, blackeyed peas, onion, a red bell pepper, a can of mild green chilies, some rice to serve it over.  The little hot pepper seemed like a good addition.  When I was making dinner, I offered Tam a taste, and she pronounced it delicious.  Raw, I found it a bit hot but not overwhelming.

     It turned out to be exactly right.  Diced and sauteed, it calmed down a little but retained a nicely flavorsome bite; I wish I'd bought one or two more.

     Recipe, it's nothing fancy; first dice and saute the fresh veggies.  I used half a white onion and half a red bell pepper along with all of the Hungarian wax pepper, starting with the onion and when it was getting translucent, added the peppers briefly.  Then pour in a can of blackeyed peas (drained and rinsed if you want to keep the sodium down) and the diced ham (some of the cheaper ham can benefit from a rinse, too), cover and heat well.  The mixture should be moist and will develop a bit of liquid.  Add water if it seems too dry.  Serve over rice.  Refinements?  Better ham, and/or fresh blackeyed peas, various interesting varieties of rice.  The basic version is fast, easy, filling and tasty. (If you start with fresh or dried legumes, they get first shift in the pot, for however long it takes 'til they are nearly done.  Ham next, then the sauteed veggies.)

     Tam pronounced it "delicious" and cleaned her bowl.  Given that she is not a big fan of either rice or blackeyed peas, I was pleased.


Old NFO said...

That's a Southern Tradition on New Years!!! ;-)

homebru said...

Sounds delish. And I have all the ingredients except the Hungarian. Do you think a jalapeno would be an acceptable substitute?

Stranger said...

Hmm, That is the first time I had thought of Powel Crosley's Crosley Shelvadors in years. Or in Crosley's Hot Shots, with their welded up engines. Shades of WLW, which had some really big bottles in the finals. And a lake for water to keep them cooled with.


Tam said...


I think a jalapeno would have been splendid. :)

Roberta X said...

Yes, if you like jalapenos, they would work well.

...If I do nothing else from this platform, I'd like spread the notion that recipes are to be fiddled with. Tweaked, adjusted, things tried-- It may not always work, but most people's notions along these lines are better than they think.

Roberta X said...

Stranger: More of a concrete pond, it was -- and still is; with the cooling fountains no longer playing, frogs have moved in.

...I had a round-top Philco-Ford fridge at the North Campus, but it was fulla groceries when we had the fire up there in '95 and got hazmat-disposed. :(

Gewehr98 said...

I would've figured Tam liked it. It isn't a particulary Yankee dish... ;-)

R said...

They are damm tasty pickled too. Mama Lil's is a brand available in my part of the country.

My housemate planted some mystery peppers (actually I'm pretty sure she just lost the planter tags) that turned out to be hungarian wax peppers. They would up being hotter than our jalapenos this year. I put up several quarts of sliced onions, carrots, and jalapenos with whole garlic cloves and hungarians plus herbs.