References are made to vinagre—a condiment that gives sparkle, a citrus-fruity tinge, heat, and aroma—throughout this book. It takes just about any dish to places it has never been before. If you don’t know about vinagre, you could probably live a full and happy life, but once you taste it, you’ll be lost without it. My mother used to place the jar of vinagre in the sun, but I just pour the pineapple liquid over the vegetables while it’s still hot, which achieves the same thing—getting the vinagre off to a head start.
It is probably easier to list the things you can’t use vinagre for. Try it over any rice dish, drizzled into soups and stews at the very end of cooking (pass some at the table, too), and anything grilled.
Yield: Makes about 1 quart
2 ripe pineapples
½ large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon smashed fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
20 garlic cloves, crushed
6 habanero or chili peppers of your choice, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or as needed
½ teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt, or as needed
1. Cut the tops off the pineapples and discard them. With a big knife, cut off the rind from the pineapples with as little pineapple attached as possible. Put the rinds in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably and pour in enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil until the pineapple peel is very tender, about 30 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep the rinds submerged.
2. Meanwhile, put the onion, oregano, peppercorns, garlic, peppers, vinegar, and salt in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid.
3. Strain the pineapple liquid over the seasonings. If there is not enough liquid to cover the ingredients, cover the pineapple with water again and boil for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt and vinegar if you think it needs it. You can use it as soon as it cools, but it will get better as it sits. Keep at room temperature 1 day, then refrigerate.