Saturday, June 1, 2013

Roasting Peppers

Roasting peppers is easy, fun, and adds a level of complexity to any recipe that calls for peppers.  The peppers themselves can be used as a vegetable side dish to compliment many meals.  A lot of people are probably thinking that roasting peppers is a long involved process that takes a specialized equipment.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, any one can roast peppers.  And I do mean anyone, no matter what level of cooking expertise you have.

The Equipment

Tongs to flip the peppers
A bowl large enough to hold all your roasted peppers
Saran wrap to cover the bowl
If you have a gas stove, then all you need is the stove top.
If you have an electric, then you will need to preheat the broiler.

Method for Gas Stove

First turn on one of your burners.  Turn the heat to a medium high, to high so the flame is nice and bright.
Next, place the peppers over the flames.
You want to completely char the outside. 
Get as much of the outer part to go from its original color to black.
Use the tongs to flip your peppers as they char.

Method for Electric Stove

Once your broiler is heated, place the peppers on a sheet pan large enough to hold them.  Make sure to leave some room between the peppers.
Brush the peppers lightly with vegetable oil.  Don't use oils with a low smoke point.
Place the peppers as close to the heating element as possible.
Leave them until they are black and charred as much as possible.  (about 5-10 min.)
Flip them and repeat.

Continuation for both methods

Once the peppers are charred, place them in the bowl and immediately cover the bowl with the saran wrap. 
If you have a large number of peppers that need to be charred in batches, cover the first batch as soon as possible. 
Covering the peppers allows them to steam using the residual heat and moisture.  This in turn loosens the black charred skin and allows for easy removal. 
Let the peppers steam until they have cooled enough to handle.
Using a knife, scrape off the charred skin as much as possible.
Use the same knife to open up the pepper and remove the stem, seeds, and veins. 
Cut the peppers into desired shapes and lengths and use for what your heart desires.
If the peppers are of the spicy variety, it is in your best interest to handle them with food gloves.
If the peppers are too spicy, you can soak them in salt water to tone them down.

Suggestions for Use

There are many things you can do with roasted peppers.  Some of my favorites are roasting red bell peppers then sauteing them in hazelnut oil or roasted jalapenos and serranos for fresh salsa.  Roasted peppers make great additions to salads, or on top of steaks.  Try stuffing a chicken breast with some roasted peppers and see what happens.  There is really no limit to what you can do with roasted peppers, all you need is some imagination.

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