To roast a pepper – the sweet peppers like green bell peppers, yellow and orange bell peppers and especially red bell peppers – is to change not only its texture but its flavor. A raw pepper is wet and crunchy, a roasted pepper is slippery and smoky.
This same technique works not only with sweet peppers but also with hot chile peppers with a little or a lot of heat. My favorite pepper for roasting is a poblano chile (as picture) but I've also roasted jalapeños and other chiles.
Mostly it's a hands-off operation, just throw the pepper on the fire, then carry on in the kitchen – no wandering off, now, it's not that hands-off! – keeping an eye on the roasting process, turning as needed.
The technique is best for roasting one or two peppers, for a whole trayful, you'll want to follow this technique that works in both gas and electric ovens, How to Roast Peppers in the Oven.
And I should add one more thing, and that's that when I was cooking on a typical kitchen stove, I didn't have much luck roasting peppers this way, it seemed to just take too long. So it's possible that this technique works only with high-BTU commercial stovetops like Viking and Wolf. Or maybe you have more patience than I!
RECIPE for HOW TO ROAST a PEPPER ON a GAS STOVE
Time to table: 20 minutes
1 or 2 peppers per burner, as needed
Rinse the pepper under running water to clean, then dry well. Place the pepper on the pot rack, not in the center but where the gas is around the perimeter. Turn the gas burner on, as high as seems safe and wraps the pepper in flame, if needed, adjusting where the pepper sits. Let it roast right in the flame, watching carefully, until the skin blisters and blackens on one side, leaving virtually no pepper color visible underneath. With tongs (or if you're brave, your fingers!) turn the pepper to roast another side, repeat as needed.
Wrap the pepper in foil and let rest for about 10 minutes, this step can be skipped but it really does make it easier for the skins to slip off. When the pepper has cooled, slip the skin off, with any luck in large pieces, some times in one fell swoop. Discard the skins or drop into a stockpot if you're making stock. Slice open the pepper, remove the core and seeds. Use the roasted peppers right away or refrigerated, within a day or two.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
For most dishes, a tiny bit of skin left on, either roasted or blackened, won't hurt. If you're making something like a smooth-as-silk soup or sauce, however, you'll want to blacken the entire skin, then remove it entirely.
If you need just a little bit of red pepper, the grocery-store olive bars often have them for sale by the pound. It's pricey but convenient, especially for needing just a tablespoon or two.
If you'd rather not use foil, place the hot roasted peppers in a bowl and cover tightly.
Some people take the skins off under running water, I don't like to waste all those good juices.
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EAT VEGETABLES IN SEASON: THIS WEEK, 2005 - 2012
Carrots Braised in Marsala Tool Tip: Avocado Knife Watercress, Clementine & Blue Cheese Salad Turkey, Tortellini & Watercress Soup Baked Eggs in Cream with Spinach Sugar Snap Peas with Soy Sauce Roasted Kohlrabi Broccoli with Sautéed Garlic 15-Bean Soup Homemade Minestrone Soup Homemade Vegetable Bouillon (< this week's favorite!) Sweet Potato Soup with Quinoa & Coconut Milk Vegetables 101: What Are Bitter Greens?
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