[Photograph: Sasha Marx]
There’s no looking a gift horse in the mouth when summer produce is at its peak. If you hear someone complaining that they can’t bear the thought of looking at another zucchini or charring another shishito, it’s your duty to tell them to stop, take a beat, and think about the long winter of beets and parsnips that will be here soon enough. Then let them know that they don’t have to blister every shishito they bring home from the market. How about turning them into a dreamy batch of creamed shishitos instead?
These creamed shishitos are the perfect antidote to standard produce-procedure fatigue. Shishitos, shallots, and garlic cooked down with heavy cream to a saucy consistency, with the cream picking up just the right amount of subtle heat from the peppers. Finished with a handful of grated Parmesan and a pinch of nutmeg, this is a steak side dish for the summer…or a pizza topping or a taco filling or the building block of a great pasta sauce.
It’s also an example of the game of culinary telephone that most chefs and cooks play, riffing off recipes and ideas from colleagues and peers. I first had a version of this preparation on a Neapolitan-style pizza with potatoes, fior di latte, and smoky speck at the now-closed restaurant Tapestry in Boston. The other week I was making pizzas at home and reached out to Kevin Walsh, the former co-executive chef of Tapestry, to get the recipe for those shishitos.
He got back to me saying he couldn’t remember the exact quantities and didn’t have his old notebook handy, but he gave me the basic rundown. Along with this CliffsNotes recipe, he told me that this version was an adaptation of a dish from Chef Alex Stupak, who had cooked a rajas-inspired dish of shishitos with crema at an event they had worked together. A riff on a riff of a classic, and a really tasty one at that. I’ve made this recipe at least once a week since then, and probably won’t be charring a shishito until next summer.
Why It Works
- Sweating the shishitos, shallots, and garlic together before adding the cream softens the vegetables without turning them to mush.
- As the cream cooks down it thickens the mixture to the perfect saucy consistency while picking up subtle spiciness from the shishitos.
- Grated Parmesan and nutmeg lend savory nutty notes to the dish.
- Yield:Makes about 1 1/2 cups, serving 3 to 4 as a side
- Total time:20 minutes
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces (225 to 285g) shishito peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced into rounds (yielding about 3 cups; 200g sliced peppers)
- 2 medium shallots (80g), thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves (10g), thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
- 1 ounce (30g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Pinch freshly ground or grated nutmeg
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In a 10-inch skillet or 3-quart saucier, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shishitos, shallots, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until vegetables are softened but not browned and shishitos are still bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add heavy cream, season lightly with salt, and bring to a rapid simmer. Continue to cook, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a rapid simmer, stirring frequently to keep vegetables from sticking and cream from scorching on the sides of the pan, until cream is reduced to a saucy consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat, add grated cheese and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away, or cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for future use.
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