After a weekend snowstorm, we are (hopefully) watching the last of the snow melt here in Chicago. The few blissful weeks before the scorching summer sun arrives will usher in outdoor seating at restaurants, community gardens, margaritas on our back porch, and long hikes through neighborhoods coming back to life.
The changing seasons also mean that cookout weather will soon arrive. Nick recently came across The Great American Hot Dog Book by Becky Mercuri and her recipe for Blackie's Deep-Fried Dogs and Pear-Pepper Relish caught his eye. Blackie's is a famous hot dog stand in Cheshire, Connecticut and is just one of the well-known stands featured in Mercuri's book. We made the relish recently and were very pleased with the results. Without straying too far from a true sweet relish, the addition of pears and hot peppers gives this recipe a unique and dynamic flavor.
Blackie's Pear-Pepper Relish
Adapted from The Great American Hot Dog Book
This makes about four cups of relish. The relish will keep in a tightly sealed container, refrigerated, for several weeks.
4 Bartlett pears
2 large onions
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeño (feel free to use a spicier pepper)
Boiling water, a few cups
1.5 C sugar
2.25 tsp mustard seeds
.75 tsp ground allspice
.25 tsp ground cinnamon
.75 tsp turmeric
1 Tbl salt
1.5 C white vinegar
.5 C water
Chop the first 5 ingredients and put in a large colander. Over the sink, pour the boiling water over the chopped ingredients. Drain thoroughly and add to a large stock-pot.
In a medium bowl combine the sugar, seeds, spices and salt. Add the dry mixture to the stock-pot and mix thoroughly with the chopped ingredients.
Add the vinegar and water and bring everything to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Your house will smell delicious. When the relish is cooked to your liking, remove from the heat and allow to cool before refrigerating.