Friday, October 29, 2010

Roasting Peppers

The peppers were overflowing the Tutti Frutti stand at the Hollywood Farmers Market last week, and I brought home a big bag of organic red peppers, poblanos and jalapenos.

I froze the jalapenos whole to use in chili and other spicy dishes throughout the winter. They defrost quickly, and still retain much of their heat.

The red peppers and poblanos I roasted and peeled, and then stored individually wrapped in the freezer. They add color and flavor to bean dishes and cobblers -- I feel rich when I have peppers in the freezer.

You might have noticed that I don't use a lot of red peppers on this blog. That's because organic locally-grown ones are only available for a short time each year. The rest of the year I pull them from my freezer - not for eating raw, of course, but for any cooked purpose they are great.

Poblanos are available year-round at Mexican markets, but I prefer the organic ones that only come to the farmers market in the fall. I grew some in my garden this year too - and harvested a dozen over the weekend. These are my favorite peppers - they have a rich flavor and a slight spiciness that I find addictive.

There are many recipes for roasting and freezing peppers. Mine is the simplest.

Roasting Peppers
Rinse and dry the peppers. Turn the gas flame on the stove to high and lay the peppers on the rack above the flame to char. I fit three on each burner. (If you don't have a gas stove, put the peppers on a rack under the broiler.)

Use tongs to turn the peppers as they blacken on each side. When a pepper is black all over, put it in a saucepan and cover it with the lid. Add peppers as they are blackened, and let them sit in the covered pot until they are cool enough to handle. The steam released as they cool helps release the skin.

To peel a pepper, hold it by the stem, and with a small knife scrape off the blackened skin. Do not run the pepper under water - this washes away the flavor. Don't fuss if some of the skin won't come off.

When you've peeled the pepper, cut off the top and then slice down one side to flatten it. Scrape out the seeds and the thickest membranes.

When you've prepped the peppers, put each one in an individual baggie and seal it. Then put them all in one big freezer bag labelled with the date and the kinds of peppers, and toss it in the freezer.

This winter, when you want a pepper, just pull it out and let it defrost in its small bag on the counter. Then chop it and add it to whatever you are cooking. Or toss it with olive oil, garlic and herbs as a quick appetizer.

Inexpensive and delicious - organic roasted peppers from the freezer are great.

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