Massa de Pimentão -Sweet Red Pepper Paste

Popular iconic flavoring ingredient of the Alentejo. Ground salt-brined sweet red peppers are used to flavor most meats and poultry .  A distinctive flavor.  Usually additional salt is not needed when preparing a dish.

 

Massa de Pimentão -Sweet Red Pepper Paste Massa de Pimentão -Sweet Red Pepper Paste

 

  • 4 large sweet red peppers, cored, seeded, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 3 pounds coarse kosher salt (not pickling or table salt)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 8-ounce jelly jars, sterilized
  • One 11×18 non-corrosive sheet pan with 1-inch sides
  • One 9 x 12 wood slatted box or footed sieve
  • Cheese cloth, if using sieve

 

  1. Set wooden box or sieve onto one end of the sheet pan. Pour a 1-inch layer of coarse salt across the bottom of the box or lined sieve.  From this point, do not move the box or sieve. Once the base salt is added, like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, place the pepper slices skin side up, onto the salt, making sure to uncurl even the smallest part of the pepper, otherwise mold will form.  Lightly press the slices onto the salt.
  2. Once the layer of peppers is completed, cover the peppers with a ½ inch layer of salt. Make a second layer of peppers, finishing with another ½-inch layer of salt, completely covering the peppers. Cover with wax paper and place heavy dishes on top to weigh it down. Move the sheet pan near a sink. Place a thick wooden spoon or two under the sheet pan to raise the box end. Let stand up to 5 days. When ready, drainage will be a trickle and peppers will be very thin.
  3. Do not rinse the peppers. Simply wipe off excess salt. Process the peppers in a meat grinder, blender or food processor until fairly fine. Pack in the jars to within 1-inch of top. Top off with the olive oil and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator for at least 6 to 9 months. To use, push aside any congealed olive oil, remove what you need, depending on the recipe then top off jar with more olive oil, recover and store.
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