The Penca chilli is the second most common pepper used in Peru after Amarillo. It has a deep red-burgundy colour, and its flavour is more berry-like, and smokier, than its bright yellow cousin. The slightly smoky flavour it has lends itself well to marinades and rubs for the grill – perfect for bringing an exotic touch to your barbecue meats!
It also works well in slow-cooked stews, where its flavour intensifies and gives a perfect balance, especially when used in combination with cumin. It is milder and sweeter than the Amarillo, but still hot enough to give a gentle tingle to any dish it contains. A very good way to use the Penca in non-South American dishes is to add a bit to the spice mix for peri peri chicken, where its smoky, fruity elements give a nice depth to the finished dish. It also adds a great deal to a homemade barbecue sauce.
Heat level – 4