Those of you from the Cleveland area might be familiar with Tony Packo's Sweet Hots (correction: Tony Packo's originates from the Toledo area! Thanks to everyone who got here from tastespotting who pointed this out to us.); the pickles are crisp and tangy, sweet and spicy, and there is just a hint of dill. For a while, our local grocery store stopped carrying them so I tried to whip up something similar. It's a pretty close fascimile, although I think I would cut down on the garlic next time. The only bad thing about this recipe is that you have to wait 8 weeks before you can have any!
Makes 4 quart jars
2 lbs pickling cucumbers
2 cups white vinegar
8 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt (or kosher)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 habanero pepper, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh dill weed
3 oz of your favorite hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 lb white sugar
Wash the cucumbers and soak in ice water (with plenty of ice) for two hours. Sterilize 4 quart jars and lids in boiling water.
In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, hot sauce and sugar and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place 1 sprig of dill, a few slices of habanero and a half a clove of garlic in the bottom of each jar, and fill with cucumbers. Pour the hot brine over the pickles, make sure the rims are clean, and seal the jars.
Process the sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow the jars to cool, and store in a cool dark place for at least 8 weeks before consuming. Refrigerate after opening.