Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Roasted Peppers: A perfect food

So as I've said exhaustively in prior posts, considering ANYONE reads this daggone blog thing, I'm Italian. Being such, I grew up eating roasted peppers, salami, pepperoni, stuffed shells, homemade raviolis, lasagna, meatballs, olives and smelly cheeses. For crying out loud, my grandfather hung wheels of provolone cheese from his basement ceiling to age and dry them out. Pinky rings and paisans were second-nature to me - what do you mean your grandfather doesn't wear a pinky ring? That's just unnatural.
My great-uncles made homemade savory pies every Easter - these things weighed 15 pounds each, no joke! They were packed with eggs, provolone cheese, salami, ham and pepperoni all wrapped in a homemade butter-laden crust. They seriously would give the healthiest person a heartattack at first bite. Then there was my grandmother and the great-aunts. Ricotta cheesecakes, stufoli, butter cookies - any and every sweet you can imagine. As the stereotype would have it, there was never and is never a shortage of food in my family.
Considering this, one would think that I'd be pretty versed in making my own roasted peppers - the quintessential Italian food that personifies Italian cuisine's beautiful simplicity. Wrong! The first time I made them I swear I followed all the directions but the skins weren't peeling off easily. After a few more attempts though, I think I've finally perfected a roasted pepper technique and it doesn't even involve an oven - which to me is great because I prefer to work on the outdoor grill.

Gather whatever peppers you have, red, green, yellow, poblano - whatever floats your pepper boat. I had half a red, half a yellow and one poblano. Throw them on the grill over medium to high heat and let 'em burn.
We're talking charcoal burn here, singe those skins until they turn black and start shriveling and cracking. It's almost freeing to know that you can leave something on the grill that long and it's still going to be edible!
Once your peppers look like this:
remove them from the grill and transfer them to a bowl. Cover the bowl immediately with plastic wrap and let your peppers sit for at least an hour.
The heat will create condensation which will soften up the charred skins, allowing you to slip those babies off the peppers like a pair of panty hose. Don't attempt this though until your peppers have cooled completely - unless you have hands like my grandmother and my mother that can take the heat.
Notice the casings and seeds removed from the peppers.
When you're done skinning your slimy little newts, your left with a colorful batch of tender peppers.
At this point you can pour a little olive oil, salt and pepper over them if you'd like, along with some minced garlic. However I like to enjoy them au natural with a wedge of salty, sharp provolone cheese and thinly sliced spicy salami. It makes me feel like I'm back at my grandparents gold-flecked white formica kitchen table having an afternoon snack. Who needs Lunchables? I mean...really?


MrsSchoon said...

Yum! I'll have to remember this next time I need a snack or side dish.

Cate said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting the picture of how they look with black skins. I never let mine sit over the flame for long enough so they are impossible to peel. I'll keep in mind what they should look like!