Shooters: Cherry Peppers Stuffed with Prosciutto & Provolone

Salty, spicy, and rich with cheese and olive oil, these peppers are a hit on any occasion. When I cooked at a large hotel in the Providence area I was exposed to a variety of Italian delicacies as that part of Rhode Island is home to a sizable population of Italian descent. While there, I learned that these stuffed peppers (known locally as shooters) are ubiquitous to the region. You find them in taverns, and on the shelves of neighborhood grocers. Locals take pride in making their own shooters, and once you try these you’ll understand why. My garden produced enough cherry peppers this year that I was able to make my own.

Ingredients
3 lb fresh cherry peppers (about 30 peppers) (1.35 kg)
4 cups white vinegar (950 mL)
4 cups water (950 mL)
6 Tbsp pickling salt (100 g)
½ cup sugar (100g)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 lb sharp provolone (950 g), cut into ¾ inch cubes (20 mm)
8 slices of prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut in half lengthwise, and then across to make 30 strips
2 cups olive oil

Preparation
Wash the peppers and drain in a colander. Using a paring knife, cut a ring around the top of the peppers. This will allow the pickling solution to enter the peppers, and make it very easy to remove the cores before stuffing them. Pack the peppers into a gallon glass, ceramic, or plastic container.

Put all the other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 minutes. Pour the hot liquid over the peppers. The peppers need to be completely covered in liquid. If you need more liquid, add a mixture of half water and half vinegar with the same proportion of salt to the jar—that is 2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt per cup (240 mL) of liquid.

Cool to room temperature, and keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks. Drain the pickled peppers in a colander set in a sink. Remove the cores from the peppers with tomato shark and discard. Drain the peppers well on absorbent toweling.

 

Cut the provolone into pieces that will fit in the peppers, ¾ inch (20 mm) is a good size for large peppers, ½ inch (15 mm) for smaller peppers. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around a cube of provolone and stuff into each pepper.

Pack the stuffed peppers into quart Mason jars. Use a wooden spoon to help arrange them so that the open ends face outward. Depending on the size of your peppers, pack them 3 or 4 to a layer. Pour the olive oil over the stuffed peppers. As air bubbles float to the surface add more oil until the peppers are completely covered. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for a week. Refrigerate after that.

Remove peppers from refrigerator several hours before you wish to serve them to bring them to room temperature. Serve the peppers with hunks of sourdough bread to help sop up the olive oil. You won’t want to miss a drop. When you have finished the peppers use the oil in the jar for salad dressing, on pizza, marinades, for dipping bread, or any number of culinary uses. The olive oil is flavored by the peppers, garlic, prosciutto, and the provolone. Save every bit, it’s delicious. Mix leftover oil with balsamic vinegar and pour over Burrata.

37 thoughts on “Shooters: Cherry Peppers Stuffed with Prosciutto & Provolone

    • As long as they are submerged in the oil the provolone and prosciutto are sealed from the air. I have kept them for 6 months in the refrigerator. This is aided by the fact that the cheese and cured meat are meant to last a long time.

  1. These are so good. 1st time I had these were at The Hill in St. Louis, MO.
    Looked for a recipe that was similar and found yours. Absolutely fabulous! I have made 6 jars of these this year but they dont last long. Thanks alot!

  2. I made a batch of these and they were really delicious. My only complaint was that they had a VERY strong pickled taste. Is there any way to minimize the pickled flavor? Less pickling salt? Less white vinegar?

  3. The only ingredients I should be boiling should be vinegar,water,pickling salt and sugar is that correct? Do the garlic and bay leaves go in with the olive oil after they are stuffed? Sorry new cook!

    • Lisa, Bring the vinegar and water to a boil with the salt and sugar. This dissolves the salt and sugar. The garlic and bay leaves go into glass or ceramic container as part of the brine to flavor the peppers. After you drain the peppers, stuff them and pack them in jar you could garnish each jar with a bay leaf and a clove of garlic if you like, but they won’t add much more flavor because the stuffed peppers are kept refrigerated.

      Bob

  4. Awesome ,People are telling me to enter in state fair!!!! As long as filled with oil and top sealed properly they should be fine at room temperature for couple months as i just try first batch from fall ? After opening refrigerate of course. Again Awesome,Great Job I`m sure alot of work involved

  5. Could you cann these as in prossess so they last a long time if you make a big batch? My kids and gran-kids all will want some! Thank you!

    • Carolyn, I wouldn’t try canning them–the cheese would melt and you’d cook the proscuitto. If you refrigerate the jars, the olive oil thickens and turns opaque, and they will last a long time.

  6. I just made these but can’t seem to get all the air bubbles out. Every time I tilt more bubbles come up. Is that going to be a problem?

    • Eoin,

      Some air is going to be trapped inside the peppers. They will be fine, especially if you store them in the refrigerator. Chances are they will only last a few weeks anyway.

      Bob

      • Thanks for the response. Also, just curious: what’s the purpose of leaving the peppers in oil on the counter for the first week before refrigerating? Are they “ready” to eat during that first week, or are the flavors still melding?

        • Eoin,

          Yes, you’ve got it. The flavors are melding. Don’t forget to save the oil and use for cooking, sald dressing, marinades, etc.

          Bob

  7. I made the peppers once, with the ripe red cherry peppers they were awesome, I now cannot find a case of red cherry peppers to buy, I like them better than the green, Any suggestions were to purchase a case or 2 of the red cherry peppers, my first case from my produce store said they came from the dominican republic.

    • Robert,

      It depends where you live. I have a garden so it’s easy for me. If you live in a city that has open air markets you should be able to find red cherry peppers at this time of the year. Ethnic neighborhoods are always a good bet–they also tend to have the choicest produce.

      Bob

  8. We love buying the shooters from our local Italian Deli. I want to make them myself this time to bring on a trip to see my daughter. I have the red hot cherry peppers (Cento brand, not stuffed). I know how to prepare them, my only question is, can you re- use the juices that they were stored in from the jar ? When I put them back in their jar, just add those juices and then if needed, add some olive oil to it to make sure they are covered.

    Thank you, we are leaving tomorrow. Thank you for your time.
    Lil

  9. Hi Bob,
    These sound absolutely phenomenal !!! Just the recipe I’ve been looking for to use up some of my bumper crop of cherry peppers. One question, though. Do you think that using white wine vinegar or cider vinegar would improve the flavor of the brine?
    I have both on hand. Thanks for your help !
    Ellen

    • Ellen,

      Cider vinegar has a sharper taste and is not really traditional. I’d go with the white vinegar. Good luck with your bumper crop, you’re going to be very popular.

      Bob

      • Thanks a lot, Bob. Going to get about 50 going in the brine today, both red and green ones. Oh, and that tomato shark was so cool that I ordered one for myself !!! Love my kitchen gadgets !!

  10. I grew one cherry pepper plant this year specifically for making these and wound up with about 40 peppers that I clipped off a week or so ago! So glad i found your recipe; all the others seemed kinda lame… question though!! How imperative is it to keep the peppers pickled for two weeks? I also make spicy garlic dill habanero pickles and after a few days sitting in a similar brine they are ready eat..

    • Joe,

      You have a very prolific cherry pepper plant. I find that 10 days to 2 weeks in the brine will completely cure the peppers, and improve their keeping qualities. If you have had luck brining them a shorter period of time go with what works for you. Your habanero pickles sound great.

      Bob

      • I know!! I was very surprised actually after having a short problem at the beginning of the season with a couple of those green leaf caterpillars.. about 2 weeks or so after removing them the plant exploded with flowers and is still producing which i believe might be the last half dozen before the weather changes. Thank you for the response though, i wasnt sure if maybe the peppers themselves needed more time sitting in the brine than compared to sliced Kirby’s. Wish i could upload you a jar of the habanero pickles, lol. they really are good!

  11. I just found this recipe. I happen to have a ton of cherry peppers out on my bushes right now. These were my husband’s favorites when he lived in Connecticut. One question I have is how crisp/firm will the peppers be when they are done? The ones he used to get had a slight crunch to them.

    • Liz,

      The peppers do retain a very nice crunch. They have a great combination of flavors and textures. I’m jealous you still have peppers hanging on your bushes. It’s snowing here.

      Bob

      • Thanks for the reply. I’m in the Texas Hill Country. All of my peppers are taking off. I even have tomatoes that are still ripening!

  12. Hi the recipe sounds good I am having a really hard time finding fresh cherry peppers I was wondering if I can use the ones from the jar

    • Jeff,

      Either the ones from a jar, or they are also in the section of the market wher you can buy bulk olives, artichoke hearts, etc. Fresh cherry peppers will be easier to find this summer–in the meantime use the already pickled ones.

      Bob

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