Cranberry sauce is all well and good. Chutney serves a purpose or two. But peppers for cold meats? Well, welcome to your new obsession. You can thank me later. But wait, can I tell you how good this stuff is? So good that I went out and bought a two-pound pork loin, just so that I could use it as a vehicle for more peppers for cold meats. It's true.
I suppose it should come as no surprise - the recipe is none other than Auguste Escoffier's, published in a Thanksgiving leftover story by the L.A. Times a few years ago. Though I dare say that this will become a staple in your home, not only for Thanksgiving, but every time you roast a piece of meat, period. I admit leeriness when it comes to historical recipes, but this recipe has passed the test of time with flying colors.
What you do is cook together an onion and some red peppers, along with a few warm spices and some salt. In go a handful of raisins, some tomatoes for juice and body, and a goodly amount of sugar and vinegar. After a period of slow-cooking on the stove, what comes together is a thick, sweetly spicy, appealingly vinegary sauce. Leave it to cool overnight and the flavors develop, the raisins plump up, and you find yourself dreaming up ways to consume it.
We're all about leftovers these days; it's my attempt to save money and waste less food. It makes me feel virtuous and housewifely to scrounge up things for our lunches or make dinner from the bits and pieces lurking in the kitchen. (Like this, for example, if only I were organized enough.) Having this savory compote in the fridge as a secret weapon made life a little easier last week, as I served it willy-nilly with a number of different things and it just got better each day.
We ate it one night, dolloped alongside crispy-skinned roast chicken, and the next day, mixed with the leftover shredded chicken over rice. We ate it another night, served with juicy roast pork hot from the oven, and made sandwiches the next day, layering appealingly pink slices of leftover pork with the cold, sludgy peppers. Next up, I'm dreaming of some sharp cheddar on good country bread, with the last spoonful of piments on top.
Turkey, look out.
Peppers for Cold Meats (Piments pour viandes froides)
Makes 4 cups
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1 pound red sweet peppers, washed, cored, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mixed spices (allspice, nutmeg)
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I drained a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes and used 3/4 of them)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1. Put the oil in a saucepan. Chop the onion very fine, add to the pan and fry over low heat until softened. Add the peppers, salt, ginger and mixed spices, and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, raisins and sugar. Add the vinegar; cook over very lot heat, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pot and cook with the lid off for 5 to 10 more minutes.