OK, so the Spicy Pickles recipe I did this weekend turned out great. They’re a mash-up of the Pickled Cauliflower recipe by Staffan Terje of Perbacco in San Francisco and the Pickled Jalapeños and Carrots recipe from my book Tacos: Authentic, Festive & Flavorful. I also added some jicama to the recipe. Every taco truck and taqueria has pickled jalapeños and carrots. Some places make their own. One of my favorite Mexican places in Phoenix, Oregon, La Tapatia, adds jicama to their house made pickles as well. I used white vinegar here because that’s all I had but the Perbacco recipe calls for white wine vinegar and my recipe calls for apple cider and cane vinegars.
Spicy Pickled Jalapeños, Carrots, Jicama And Cauliflower
Makes 3 to 4 quarts. Keeps in Refrigerator for Months.
1 quart water
2 generous tablespoons kosher salt
10 jalapeños, fresh, pierced several times with a skewer or sharp knife tip
14 serranos, fresh, pierced several times with a skewer or sharp knife tip
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch florets
1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 white onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 head garlic, cut in half crossways
1 quart white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon marjoram, dried
2 bay leaves, torn in half
1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the jalapeños and serranos and cook for 6 minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let cool on a plate. Add the carrots to the same water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they have slightly softened but are still crunchy. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let cool. Add the cauliflower to the water and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they have slightly softened but are still crunchy. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let cool. Add the jicama to the water and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they have slightly softened but are still crunchy. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let cool. Reserve 2 cups of the remaining cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, in a large cazuela (a traditional Mexican clay pot), or deep cast-iron or enamel pot. heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring rapidly so that they stay crunchy, and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the reserved water, the vinegar, sugar, and marjoram to the cazuela, or pot, and bring to a boil.
4. While the brine is heating, pack the vegetables into 3 or 4 sterilized quart jars, leaving a little room for the onions and garlic in the brine (widemouth jars are easier to pack). Add a piece of bayleaf and 3 peppercorns to each jar. When the brine boils, remove it from the heat and ladle it into the jars. Let them cool. Then put lids on the jars and let them sit in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before using.
Note: You can cheat and start eating them within hours, but they don’t develop full heat for several days. Also, I found the pickles too sweet and will halve the amount of sugar next time.