Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hot Italian Giardiniera

It's been far too long since my last post and I know I'm going to have to pick it up a notch or two if I'm going to keep my Fatboys and Fatgirls interested so consider this an apology and a tasty recipe all rolled into one. An apolocipe if you will. Or a recipology. Anyway this spicy Italian blend is a Chicago-town classic and an absolute gem...it takes a bit of time, but is worth the extra effort - trust me.
I first experienced (and started trying to spell) giardiniera at Harry Caray's on Navy Pier in Chicago about 2 summers back. Being a city that will put just about anything on a hot dog, and me being a guy who has tried just about anything on a hot dog, there's a lot of basis for comparison - but this blows them all out the friggin water. Chunks of crunchy veg, spicy with a sweet saltiness...it's not quite relish, it's not quite chutney...it's just giardiniera...apparently.
I managed to snag some crazy-good-lookin' roast beef from work one day and figured hot Italian beef sandwiches were in order. After a bit of searching online for the best giardiniera (from here on out known affectionately as simply 'G') recipe out there, I found the one I wanted to use. Phonetek - an Illinois native whose hobbies include gardening and fishing ended up hooking me up. BIG TIME. I can't take any credit for this recipe...I tried this one and wouldn't change a thing. 
This recipe calls for a little bit of time, and a whole lot of vegetables. You're going to want two green peppers, two red peppers, a medium onion, a carrot, a stick of celery, half a cup of cauliflower florets and about 8 green chili peppers. Don't be a little man and wimp out on the chilis...the brining process tames the kick and just leaves you with mostly just the flavour anyway, you little man.
Deseed and slice the chilis, chop the onion and dice everything else nice and small, except for the cauliflower which should be a bit chunkier. Pour into a large bowl, cover with 1/2 cup of salt and enough water to cover the vegetables, then wrap with cling film and stick in the fridge overnight. The next day drain and rinse the vegetables then pour into a clean bowl along with 2 diced cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of dried oregano, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper, 5oz green pimento-stuffed olives, a cup of white vinegar and a cup of olive oil. Then cover again and stick it in the fridge for at least two days. Go away for a long weekend or meet up with some mates and have a couple of days on the sauce...just try and forget about the amazing flavours marinading in your fridge.
And that's it. This stuff keeps for ages as well, so jar it and keep it for sandwiches, on cold meats, whatever really..it's the actual mutt's nuts and I can't recommend it highly enough. Don't be put off by the brining or the times involved either...it's a doddle, and the first bite will make it all seem worthwhile. 
Rare shot of the Fatboy in the wild at feeding time

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