In the next week, I will be blogging about two completely different things that have one thing in common: They both take more than one day to make. Today, it is all about Explosive Mixture! I was introduced to explosive mixture by my brother, Rick… a Renaissance Man to the nth degree. Rick had made a batch of this amazing mixture and the entire family went nuts! It was everything you want a good appetizer to be: Salty and sweet, with a bite of vinegar. And as a bonus it is quite healthy to eat. Sadly, the family fought over all the remaining jars, going so far as to sneak some into their cars before anyone noticed… (AHEM: JUDY!) Whenever Rick made explosive mixture, we all waited patiently hoping to get a jar or two. One day I found a jar at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor and paid a whopping $11.00 for it. Rick’s was 10 times better, however. Eventually I gave in and asked Rick for the recipe. He sent me a couple photocopied pages from a book entitled, Preserving the Italian Way by Peter Demaio. This is the neatest book ever! Peter has collected awesome Italian recipes from all over that should be loved and cherished! Get the book if you are interested in making something you have not seen unless you visit sweet little Italian ladies frequently. Explosive mixture is delicious on crackers, bruschetta or a chunk of toasted bread, mixed into cream cheese as a spread or on an Italian sandwich with meats and cheese! You will love it, I guarantee it!
A labor of love:
So as far as the labor of love goes, this recipe takes three days to make. I gotta tell ya, it is SO worth it though! Once you get your mouth around a spoonful of this, you can never go back. So without further ado, here is the recipe and the process with all of the tips I learned along the way. Mangia!
Wash up all your vegetables and chop them up. Put them all in a large container and mix them up with 300 grams of salt. (About 1 cup) Mix it up, weigh it down with something. I used some plastic food containers with large cans of tomatoes for weight. Cover the container and put it in a cool cellar for 24 hours.
After your 24 hours is over you will have a container of salty soft vegetables in a lovely brine liquid. Place all the mixture into a large colander and drain all the liquid off. Rinse the vegetables very well with water and drain well. Put the veggies back into your container and cover them with white wine vinegar. I learned that you wanted to completely cover the vegetables with the vinegar in order to get the remaining salt out of the vegetables. Weight the mixture down again, cover it and let it hang out for another 24 hours.
When you are ready, get the container out and taste a chunk of something. It should taste salty, but not TOO salty and vinegary too. If it is too salty, you can rinse the veggies a second time, cover them with more vinegar and wait another 24 hours.
At this time you can either grind your vegetables in a meat grinder with a small disk. (I used my kitchen aid meat grinder attachment with the smallest disk) or whir it up in your food processor. Be careful to not over process. You do not want a paste.
Get all your jars sterilized. I used 1/2 pint jars and boiled the jars, lids and rims for 10 minutes. Fill your jars with the mixture leaving a little room for olive oil at the top. The olive oil is going to preserve your mixture, you do not need to process the jars.
Check your jars the next day and add olive oil if you need to. You should not have ANY vegetables above the surface of the oil. Keep your jars in your cellar, if you can… you may find people secreting them away in their cars!
Recipe for Explosive mixture
2 large eggplants
2 small zucchini
2-3 red peppers
10 dried tomatoes
20 green olives in brine that have been pitted
1/2 kg green tomatoes (about 5 or 6)
10 fresh hot chilies depending on your heat level. (I used 10 hot cherry peppers and it had a mild heat)
5 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2-3 tsp oregano
300 g of salt ( a little under 1 cup)
500 mls white wine vinegar (more if veggies are not covered after weighting)
about 2 cups of olive oil
Cut all the fresh veggies into small chunks, place all in large plastic container, add salt, mix thoroughly, weight and cover and let sit for 24 hours. Drain well, rinse the mixture with water and press down to get all the liquid out. Put the mixture back into the rinsed container, cover the the mixture with the vinegar and weight and cover again. Wait for 24 hours and drain well, pressing as much liquid out of the mixture as you can. Put the mixture back into the container and add the chopped dried tomatoes, the olives, the crushed garlic, the oregano and 1/4 cup of olive oil and mix well. Ready your sterilized jars. Pass the mixture through a meat grinder or food processor until it resembles a coarse spread. Put a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of each jar and fill with the mixture. Top up with the oil when the jars are full. Check after 2-3 days to make sure that you do not have to top up with more oil. If the mixture comes into contact with the air because the oil level has dropped it will turn dark brown instead of it’s multi-colored hues. Discard if this happens. Store your jars in your cellar, but they won’t last long enough to spoil! Enjoy, and don’t tell Judy you made it!