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Italian Peperoncino, whole

Latest arrival in our pantheon of chilli pepper is the whole Italian Peperoncino. This is probably the most widely used ‘European’ chilli, and is particularly important in the cuisine of the Calabria region in hot, sunny southern Italy. It is used with abandon in the area, almost as a seasoning (it is what gives the spready sausage N’duja its distinctive character). Peperoncino is generally used flaked or powdered, but the whole ones are easily ground in a pestle and mortar when needed. Also they can be rehydrated in a little warm water, then used as you would use a fresh chilli – this is a particularly good idea if you are making a fresh Arrabbiata sauce. Another way to use peperoncino is to drop a whole one into a tomato ragu – its fruity flavour will permeate the sauce. These chillies are not spectacularly hot, although they do give a tingle. With these lovely peppers, the flavour is as important as the heat.

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