peperoni cruschi

Peperoni Cruschi Part 2 | Frying Them Up

In Correspondents Around the World by Harald ZoschkeLeave a Comment

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Earlier this week we introduced you to peperoni cruschi. Now the exploration continues. From friends in Maierà – where the famous Peperoncino Museum is located – we were invited to a restaurant where those crispy peppers were just one of many delicious appetizers. Since we were so enthusiastic about them, our friends gave us a treccia of dried Dolce Calabrese so that we could fix those crispy peppers back home.

peperoni cruschi ristra

Airtight storage of a pepper ristra in northern latitudes

Since air humidity is too high for us here to simply hang the treccia in the kitchen, we keep it airtight in a glass jar and store it and in the dark pantry. Now we are ready for our own Cruschi production!
peperoni cruschi in oil

Raw material: Our dried hot peppers from the above ristra

The dried peperoni are cleaned of dust etc. with a dry cloth or kitchen paper, never with a damp one. The oil temperature should be 155 to 160°C (310 to 320 F). We found it best to use a small uncoated pan.
The frying takes just a few seconds: Dip the peppers into the simmering olive oil, count 1-2-3, turn them, 1-2-3 – done! We recommend frying them one by one.
Frying the dried peppers

Frying the dried peppers

You can tell that the peppers are fried enough when they inflate. Just don’t leave it in the fat for too long, otherwise they will become bitter or even charred.
The dried peppers will inflate during frying

The dried peppers will inflate during frying

Then quickly remove the peppers and put them on a plate with kitchen paper to drain. After a few minutes, they become even crispier.
Draining off oil on kitchen paper towels

Draining off oil on kitchen paper towels

Important: After frying, don’t forget to remove the pan from the stove!
Optionally break off the stem and remove the seeds before frying

Optionally, you can break off the stem and remove the seeds before frying

You can either fry the whole pods, or break out the stem and remove the inner part with the seeds. We have tried both variants and will probably use the first one in the future.
Fried Italian sweet peppers fried potato slices

Fried Italian sweet peppers fried potato slices

To keep your Peperoni Cruschi crispy, it is recommended to keep them in an airtight container or a Zip-type plastic bag after cooling.
To keep your Peperoni Cruschi crispy, it is recommended to keep them in an airtight container or a Zip-type plastic bag after cooling.

Keeping Peperoni Cruschi airtight

Tasty tip from the Basilicata: Fry some thin cut potato slices in the same oil, drain also on kitchen paper towel, salt lightly immediately. Together with the crispy peppers a great snack!
Cross section of Peperone di Senise - other thin-fleshed varieties are also suitable

Cross section of Peperone di Senise – other thin-fleshed varieties are also suitable

Using Other Pepper Varieties
In addition to Peperoni di Senise or Dolce Calabrese, other sweet pepper varieties can be fried into peperoni cruschi, such as Hungarian spicy peppers or New Mexican chiles (generic term “Hatch Chiles”) such as Sandia, NuMex Heritage 6-4 or NuMex Big Jim. The pods should be thin-fleshed, matured to red (or different colors depending on the variety), and dried well. In northern latitudes that requires most of the time the use of an electric dehydrator, otherwise harmful mold quickly forms in whole fruits – Northern Europe (and not even northern Italy) or the northern United States are just not Calabria, Basilicata, Apulia, or New Mexico.
Commercial Peperoni Cruschi Products
If you’re not into frying your own peppers, you can buy the crispy Kruskis already fried and sealed airtight as a finished product. For example, a search on amazon.it for peperoni + cruschi resulted in a large number of such products. Attention: There are also suppliers in the Basilicata offering “Peperoni Cruschi” for frying at home (labeled “da friggere”). They still have to go to the frying pan. You can usually recognize them by the packaging of transparent plastic bags – just dried peppers.
Commercial Peperoni Cruschi Products

Commercial Peperoni Cruschi Products

We have ordered and tested the store-bought Peperone Cruschi shown in the photo. Novafood’s “Cruskees” from Potenza (Basilicata) are available in two versions – traditionally fried in oil and lightly salted, and baked “without anything” in the oven (al forno). The “iCruschi” by Azienda Agricola Belfiore Massimo from Matera (also Basilicata) are also traditional as well. All three variants come without stems and inner life, cut into larger pieces, ready to munch.
We liked all three products and – like chips – there’s a certain risk of addiction. If you want to use them in other dishes (including sweet ones), the oven-baked Cruskees are recommended because they don’t contain salt. The other two are great in pasta dishes, for example; here you should be careful with additional salt.
If you’d like to try the famous Peperoni di Senise and the dishes prepared with them on location, a trip to the beautiful Basilicata region is recommended. Some areas there are strongly reminiscent of the southwestern United States; others appear truly Mediterranean, with countless old olive trees.
At harvest time starting in August, the red fruits are shining from the fields. There are not too many accommodations in this part of the Basilicata, which is not (yet) much developed for tourism. Therefore be advised to turn check out tour guides in time. While there, you should also take a look at Matera, European Capital of Culture in 2019. Culinary, the versatile region offers a full-bodied red wine called Aglianico del Vulture, tasty dried beans (Fagioli di Sarconi), as well as bread, sausage and cheese specialties. And of course those famous Peperoni di Senise
Basilicata and Calabria - a worthwhile destination for pepper lovers

Basilicata and Calabria – a worthwhile destination for pepper lovers

A Basilicata trip could be combined with a visit of the Peperoncino Festival in Diamante in the no less beautiful Italian region of Calabria, which takes place every year in early September. While there, should definitely visit the Peperoncino Museum in the nearby mountain village of Maierà; the winding ride up is rewarded with a great panoramic view over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
In addition to the mild Dolce Calabrese, there are also hot chile peppers at the tip of Italy. Their Scoville values does not come close to the record holders, but they have good fire and the typical peperoncino flavor of the region. There are many local products made with those pepperoncini, often called “Diavolini” or “Viagra dei poveri” (poor man’s Viagra).
But first, have fun trying those fantastic Peperoni Cruschi and enjoy!
Spaghetti con Peperoni Cruschi
Print Recipe
Heat Scale: Medium
Servings
2 servings
Servings
2 servings
Spaghetti con Peperoni Cruschi
Print Recipe
Heat Scale: Medium
Servings
2 servings
Servings
2 servings
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly crumble the white bread.
    crumbling white bread
  2. Crumble the peperoni also. A plastic bag is helpful here.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, then flavorize it with the garlic clove for about 5 minutes.
    garlic in oil
  4. Add the crumbled bread and toast until golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove the toasted bread crumbs, set aside (discard the garlic). Pour some more oil into the pan if necessary.
    toasting bread
  5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente in plenty of salted water, according to the instructions. Then drain, but retain some of the pasta water.
  6. Add one (or two) ladles of pasta cooking water to the oil in the pan, stir well and reheat on low heat.
    pasta water and oil
  7. Pour the drained spaghetti into the pan.
    drained spaghetti
  8. Add the roasted bread crumbs as well as the crushed Peperoni Cruschi.
    spaghetti and bread crumbs
  9. Mix everything well, arrange on preheated plates and, if desired, sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano. Buon appetito!
    spaghetti chrusch
Recipe Notes

Peperoni Cruschi are available online, or you can make them yourself. If you like it a little spicier, you can also heat a hot chile pepper along with the garlic clove.

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European Chilehead Editor at Large | Harald’s Chili Pepper Buch 2.0 is the bestselling chile book in German-speaking Europe. He covers European chilehead culture and his own spicy kitchen encounters for Burn Blog.