We’re always looking to broaden the scope of the products we review for this blog, and this Rosetti’s Crushed Hot Peppers certainly fit the bill. We must preface this review with the fact that we’ve tried a fair number of spicy cooking oils, many of them infused oils. However, most of those have been infused with the essence of capsaicin just to make it hot. This is more of a traditional Italian olive oil, replete with a supply of chile peppers (seeds and all). An infused oil traditionally consists of a carrier oil that has been permeated (“infused”) with one or more herbs. The benefit to using an infused oil as opposed to a plain carrier oil is that the infused oil will contain the therapeutic properties of both the carrier oil and the herbs that were infused into the oil…in this case, chile peppers.
Ingredients: crushed red hot peppers, Italian olive oil, fresh garlic, and spices
Steve Rossetti, of the Rossetti’s company, asked us to try his product but didn’t give us any specific suggestions on how to use this oil. It’s a darn good thing that his website gave us some good suggestions instead:
Rossetti’s crushed hot peppers is an extremely versatile condiment that can be used in soups, sauces, sandwiches, bread, calzones, eggs, cheese, pizza, and pasta. It’s also great for mixing with cream cheese and egg salad for a one of a kind hors d’oeuvre spread… or simply dip some bread in it and enjoy with a glass of wine!
First impression: This product comes in a small six-ounce glass jar. I point out the size because my initial thought was that this amount was likely too little for the average person, who might use a lot of it with their cooking. Upon opening the jar, it was obvious that this is much more chile peppers with oil as opposed to oil with chile peppers. Nearly two-thirds of the jar is filled with crushed chile peppers! The rest is filled with olive oil. It has a delectable herbaceous aroma with very detectable garlic.
When in doubt with what to do with a cooking oil…start out by cooking with it. We scooped out a few tablespoons of it to make some skillet Thai chicken and rice. While not an ostensibly Italian recipe, we wanted to test the versatility of this product by trying it with a different kind of dish.
Cooking with this product is much akin to using any kind of cooking oil, such as canola or olive, but with the added benefit of the chile peppers. Check out in this picture how the chicken has those peppers cooked right into the meat. About ten minutes in the skillet was perfect to cook this chicken before adding the sauce and veggies.
Taste: Definitely a case of where the dish doesn’t make the sauce good, but rather this makes the dish a lot better. What we made was Thai coconut chicken, which had a sweeter sauce than we were really wanting that typically had very little heat. We cooked this with the oil, and it ratcheted up the heat to about a 4/10 level with the finished product. Nice pepper flavor to go along with it as well.
One thing we noticed about this oil was that it had a very earthy flavor to it that tasted a bit like a peanut or peanut oil. We even had to recheck the ingredients to make sure there wasn’t any nut or peanut oil in the mix, and indeed there is not. Between the peppers themselves and the fresh roasted garlic, there is an earthy flavor we’ve not ever had with an Italian-style infused oil.
One thing about taking a little too long to write a review was that it gave us extra time to use this in a variety of foods. From soups/stews to Italian sauces to store-bought egg and tuna salads, we put a little of this in a lot of stuff. Suffice to say, it added a bit of heat and flavor to each one. It’s heavier on the flavor than heat, but then again this isn’t a habanero-infused oil so you wouldn’t expect the heat to be extreme anyway.
Overall recommendation: One thing that really impressed us about this product was its versatility. Despite its billing as something that might be destined for a dipping oil or with mostly Italian dishes, we found that we could use this in cooking a wide variety of dishes and tastes. Great with soups and stews, it will even make a rather mundane tuna salad something both peppery and a little spicy. My only criticism was that I thought it was a little heavy on the peppers and could use a little more oil so that you weren’t left with mostly peppers after a few servings. A little can go a long way to be sure, but we might be ready for more pretty soon. A product definitely worth trying. Enjoy!