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My uncle had a bumper crop of tomatoes and hot banana peppers this year and decided to send'em all on up to New York from Pennsylvania via my-sister-express. What do you do with a peck of peppers? Why, you pickle'em of course.
Not only that, but this past week I was walking into the supermarket under my building and discovered a brand new Boar's Head display right in the front of the store stocking natural casing hot dogs, sauerkraut, pickles, and... wait for it... natural casing sticks of real-deal pepperoni. I've been scouring New York for years for a reliable source for natural casing pepperoni, and lo and behold, the pepperoni comes to me instead.
Like Adam, I first started liking the combination of pepperoni and some kind of hot pepper when I tasted it on a limited edition Papa John's Zesty Jalapeño and Meat Pizza a few years back. That pizza wasn't particularly great, but the topping combo was. Pickled banana peppers (I like'em better than jalapeños) are a go-to topping when I'm ordering pizza, but I'd never actually made myself one of these pies at home. All that changed last week.
The peppers were done in a simple basic pickling solution—1 part distilled vinager, 1 part water, half a part sugar, and a pinch of salt, simply heated and poured hot over the sliced peppers. I also added a sliced shallot because I happened to have it on hand. The pepperoni was thick sliced by hand, and curled up beautifully around the edges. The dough was a basic New York pizza dough, the sauce was my New York pizza sauce, and the cheese was a dry mozzarella from Vermont.
I baked the whole thing off on a Baking Steel (my new favorite baking surface), and five minutes later, I was enjoying one of the finest pies to come out of my kitchen.
Click through the link to get the recipe for Pickled Banana Peppers »
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.