Friday, April 16, 2010

Roasted Red Peppers, alleged pantry staple

Most people that I would consider to be real cooks seem to always include a jar of roasted red peppers on their list of pantry staples. This has always been a bit of a mystery to me, but it might just be because, compared to flour or rice or chicken broth, it’s a rather pricey and sort of unnecessarily luxurious “staple.” But folks are always talking about how great peppers are for throwing together a quick appetizer or snack, so I decided to make a batch of my own and see what happens over the next few months.

So: set your oven to broil, line a cookie sheet with foil, and coat four red peppers with olive oil. Check the peppers every few minutes, turning them whenever you begin to see brown spots on the up side. Once they’re browned/blackened all over, you need to seal the peppers up somehow so the skins can steam loose. I locked mine into the pressure cooker (a weird solution, I agree); you could use a big ziplock or whatever. Here’s how they looked right before I sealed ‘em up:


Let them sit for 20 or 30 minutes before removing the skins. Every description I’ve ever read talks about the peppers “slipping” out of their skins. I have never had that experience. But I’ve found that it’s a little easier if you start at the stem and loosen all of the skin around it before trying to peel the pieces downward. Here’s a handsomely peeled pepper ready to be sliced:


I layered some thinly sliced garlic between each layer of pepper slices.


Once the jar was full (this is that sort of medium-sized mason jar; four peppers fit perfectly), I topped it off with more olive oil:


The jar is all sealed up and sitting in the fridge; I’m going to let it marinate a few days before trying anything. A few ideas for now: red pepper hummus, dip with cream cheese, vinaigrette, soup…and in strips on sandwiches.

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