Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mexican Pickled Carrots

I first had these crispy pickles at a little Mexican restaurant near the University of Oregon. They're a perfect appetizer or side to tacos and other standard fare. The heat is easily adjusted by varying the amount of jalapenos that are used.
2 lbs large carrots, peeled and sliced into ⅛ inch thick pieces
½ large white onion cut in ¼ inch slices
5 cloves garlic peeled and diced
1 ¾ cups cider vinegar
1 ¾ cups water
10 bay leaves, whole
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
3 oz. pickled jalapenos

Combine vinegar, water, peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and then add the carrots. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos along with a little of the juice they were packed in and bring to a simmer again for another 5-10 minutes. Check for texture = you want the carrot slices firm, but tender enough to bite easily, not limp and mushy.

Let the carrots cool to at least room temperature and then transfer the carrots and cooking liquid into a covered container and refrigerate overnight. It improves the flavor if you layer in a little fresh cilantro, but do this only if they will be eaten within a few days.
Transfer hot into canning jars and seal. You can combine the carrots with fresh cilantro at serving time if you seal  them.

Store the carrots in the liquid in the refrigerator and use a slotted spoon or pickle tongs to serve them. You may leave the bay leaves in the liquid to add to the flavor, but do not eat them.
This proportion of jalapenos produces an only slightly hot pickle. Double it for more fire. The pickles also pick up more “heat” if they stand for several weeks. Best stored in the refrigerator a few days before serving so the flavors mingle, they will keep for several weeks.

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