Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Roasted Marinated Peppers

Somehow I got myself on a cooking and baking tear this past weekend. It all started with buttermilk. You see, my mom and I have these family friends who weren't feeling great so we decided to make them some meals last weekend. One was a simple turkey chili. My mom then said, "We should make cornbread to go with it. Buttermilk cornbread." And that was fine. But you have to buy a pint and all you need is like half a cup. So now I have this pint of buttermilk I'm trying to use up.

I started scouring recipes for something and found cakes and pies. So I decided to try my hand at a buttermilk pound cake. I came up with something pretty cool (that's for next week). Then I brined chicken in the buttermilk, along with garlic and some spices.

And with that I was in a cooking frenzy. I have a story coming out this week in the San Diego Union-Tribune's food section on my friend Chef Sara Polczynski showing readers how to use three different types of Mexican kitchen tools so I made one of the recipes using a comal--her Smoked Tomatillo Salsa.

And, finally, I pulled out some extra peppers I had from buying for the turkey chili and made my favorite roasted, marinated peppers. I have to have these peppers in my fridge. Not only do I love them on a slice of sourdough baguette, garlicky oil dripping off the bread, but also as a pizza topping or to add to a tomato sauce. By the time I use up the peppers, they've insinuated themselves into the olive oil I used to marinate them. And then I have this reddish spicy (from marash pepper flakes) oil redolent of anchovies to enjoy on a crostini or bruschetta, to sauté vegetables (try it with asparagus), or toss with pasta.

Now it doesn't seem possible that I actually haven't written about these before since they're such a recurring part of my personal eating habits. But I couldn't find them. After 10 years I guess I'm allowed a repeat, so if you have seen these my apologies. But oh, these are great, especially as we head into the warmer months.

I don't use any real recipe. This is sort of free form. So, here's what I do.

Wash three or four bell peppers--red, green, yellow, orange--it doesn't matter. If you have an electric stove, turn on the broiler. Dry and place on a large piece of foil, then place in the broiler. Use tongs to turn them as the skin blisters. If you have a gas stove, you can simply dry roast them over a burner.

When they are totally blackened, place in a brown paper bag and fold down the top. Place on the kitchen counter and let steam for about 15 or 20 minutes. While they're steaming get out a head of garlic and separate four or five cloves (or however many you want). Peel and slice the garlic cloves. You'll also want to have sea salt, dried herbs, red pepper flakes or marash pepper flakes (or whatever you like), and a jar of anchovies (if they are salt packed, rinse off the salt).

Peel the skin from the peppers, remove the core, and brush away the seeds. Dry them (this part gets juicy) and slice into 1" wide pieces.

Now you can start layering. In a flat container with a lid (I use one that's about 5" by 7"), place the bottom layer of peppers, sprinkle some sliced garlic over the peppers, sprinkle with salt, pepper flakes, herbs, and anchovies. Repeat until you run out of pepper slices. Sprinkle with the rest of the herbs, red pepper flakes, and salt. Now get out some great olive oil and pour over the layers until they are totally covered. Let sit about an hour on the counter, then refrigerate.

Now a couple of tips:

1. When you roast and steam the peppers, really let them steam and cool down so you can handle them and not be tempted to run them under cool water when you peel away the skin. Do that and you basically rinse away the flavor.

2. Feel free to change up the flavors. Sometimes I include dried herbs like thyme or oregano. I love to include this herb rub. If you make and use it, you won't need any extra salt. Use more or less garlic. I love garlic, so I put in plenty. Don't like anchovies? Don't use them. You could also add some vinegar, but keep it mild--like a white wine vinegar--so it doesn't overpower the peppers.

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