Ask any Mexican if they have pickled jalapeños in their pantry, and the answer is usually a resounding yes. More than a condiment, they are an absolute necessity. Incredibly versatile, they can be tucked into tacos, quesadillas and sandwiches, mixed into tuna salads or eggs for omelets, or served as garnishes, crowning nachos, hot dogs and pizzas. The tangy brine, which can be used to punch up any vinaigrette, tames the heat of the chiles. There are countless store-bought options — and people tend to be loyal to particular brands — but pickling your own is easy, and allows you to customize to taste, altering the vegetable ratios, herbs or sugar content. Inspired by fruit-based vinegars available in the Mexican countryside, this version combines white distilled vinegar with natural rice vinegar, adding a dose of sweetness.
- Serves: 6 persons
- ½cup vegetable oil
- 6ounces white pearl onions (or trimmed spring onion bulbs)
- 4garlic cloves, peeled
- 1pound whole jalapeños (stems intact)
- ½pound medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
- 2cups distilled white vinegar
- 1cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 5dried bay leaves
- 1tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2teaspoons dried oregano
- 1teaspoon dried thyme
- 5whole cloves, stems removed and discarded, rounded tops crushed between fingertips
- ¼teaspoon ground cumin
- 2tablespoons kosher or sea salt
- 1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Step 1In a large (12-inch) skillet or a heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high until hot but not smoking. Add the onions and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until their outer layer begins to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until it barely begins to turn golden. Incorporate the jalapeños and carrots, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a couple times, until the jalapeño skins begin to slightly dull and wrinkle.
Step 2Stir in all remaining ingredients and simmer briskly for about 7 minutes, until the liquid reduces and the vegetables soften. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Step 3Transfer the pickled vegetables and their liquid into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. (They will last for at least 1 month.)