Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Roasting Peppers or Chiles

Roasted bell peppers are an ingredient that can easily be found in any U.S. grocery store, and even in most Mexican grocery stores.  However, many brands are watered down and don't have much flavor...a far cry from the deliciousness of freshly roasted peppers.  Additionally, many traditional Mexican recipes call for roasted chiles such as poblanos or jalapeños, and those usually aren't sold jarred.  Knowing how to quickly and easily roast peppers is a great skill to have....so I thought I'd teach you how!

Most recipes that call for freshly roasted peppers will have you do them in the oven under very high heat or a broiler, turning every so often until they're charred on all sides.  This is a perfectly viable solution if you don't have a gas stove, but I've always been bothered by getting the oven all hot, getting yet another dish (the sheet tray) dirty, and practically (or literally) burning myself every time I go in to turn the peppers.  Fortunately I do have a gas stove (and nearly all professional kitchens where I've worked do as well), so I've grown to love the ease of roasting my peppers on the stove top.  Here are the steps for doing just that....but if you're roasting in the oven, follow the steps in your recipe and skip to Step #3 below.  Even if your recipe doesn't call for putting the peppers in a covered bowl before peeling, do it anyway because it makes the peeling process so much easier.

Step 1:  Turn your burner(s)--depending on how many peppers you're roasting--on high.  Place your peppers directly on the burners, in contact with the flames.

My Poblanos on Multiple Burners
Step 2:  Using a long set of tongs, turn your peppers every so often until they are charred and black on all sides.  Don't forget to char the top and the bottom of your peppers as well! 

Step 3:  Once your peppers are charred, place them in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave the peppers to cool and continue softening for at least 15 minutes, or until you're ready to use them.  (Sometimes I do this step very early and come back to the peppers hours later.  They'll be just fine.)

Covered in Plastic Wrap, Cooling Down

Step 4:  When you're ready (and wearing a pair of latex gloves if you're working with chiles or just want to keep your hands cleaner), remove the plastic wrap and peel the peppers using paper towels.  The skin should come off quite easily, but don't worry if you can't quite get it all off. 

Peeling...don't forget your gloves!
Step 5:  Using your fingers or a small paring knife, remove the stem of each pepper.  If the skinning process hasn't already split the pepper down the side for you, use the paring knife to make a slit down the length of the pepper and, still using paper towels, remove all the seeds and ribs from the pepper.  (If you are using chiles and want them to be extra spicy, leave the ribs in tact as that's where the heat is.  You should still remove all the seeds.)

Splitting Pepper

Removing Ribs

Removing Seeds Inside

Step 6:  Continue with your recipe, whether it calls for using the peppers whole or slicing/dicing them.  Just remember if you are going to have to use them whole, you'll need to be a little more delicate during the peeling process so they don't rip apart, particularly with thin-walled chiles like poblanos.

Cleaned Chile...no seeds!!


Yum!  My favorite recipe using roasted poblanos...Rajas con Crema!
How to use your roasted poblanos?  Just sauté onions and season with garlic, thyme and oregano.  Add sliced poblanos and crema (or heavy cream that you allow to reduce).  Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper and serve over tacos or fajitas!!  Enjoy!