Monday, November 10, 2008

How to Roast a Pepper

I love roasted peppers and use them for and in all sorts of things: chiles rellenos, quesadillas, pasta dishes, enchiladas, creamy red pepper sauce, on sandwiches, on pizza, in dips...

What I don't love is that jarred roasted red peppers can be expensive (not that red peppers themselves are cheap by any means). If I catch red bell peppers on sale, I buy a bunch. Some, I chop and freeze, others I roast and freeze. They are just fine in many recipes. Even better, I like to grow my own. Sometimes I just like to stick it to the middle man.

My favorite pepper to roast is the poblano because then I can stuff them full of cheese and fry them. That right there is some good stuff. Pure genius.
Peppers can be roasted over the flame of a gas stove, on a grill, or under a broiler.

If using the broiler method, my suggestion is to place a piece of foil on a cookie sheet to help with clean-up. Place the peppers on the pan and broil away. Periodically check the peppers and turn them to char the skin evenly.

If using an open flame, it's pretty much the same deal. Place over the flame, check and turn them periodically to get an even char.

When the skin is completely charred, place in a plastic bag (I knew all those Wal-mart bags had to be good for something) or bowl sealed with plastic wrap to help steam off the skins.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, flake the skin off with your hands. Don't run water over the peppers for skin removal--you'll also remove flavor.

A couple of things:
* Don't overdo it--don't char the skin so much that you fuse it into the flesh of the pepper. You'll never get the skin off the dang thing. Trust me, I've learned the hard way.

*Don't forget your peppers in the plastic bag or bowl. There comes a point where if you leave them sit for too long, it becomes difficult to remove the skin. Again, learned the hard way.

*if you're going to chop or puree the roasted peppers, skin them and de-seed like a savage. It isn't going to matter if you mangle them. If you need them intact to stuff, remove the skin and seeds with caution. It is a sad thing to have beautifully roasted peppers for chiles rellenos and then end up ripping holes in them when you remove the skins. Quite sad.

Roasted and ready. So many possibilities...
Here's one idea: Chiles Rellenos

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