A staple in italian cuisine, roasted peppers are actually quite simple to prepare and keep for several weeks in the fridge. they can be enjoyed straight on an antipasto platter, on pizza, in sandwiches or in pasta sauces.
Equipment needed:
A gas or charcoal grill
A Large bowl or bucket filled with very cold water

A variety of sweet bell peppers
Olive Oil

I use mainly red, yellow and orange bell peppers for roasting, green work as well but green bell peppers are higher in bitterness then their more brightly colored bretheren. Although roasting does enhance the natural sweetness of the peppers, I would only use green peppers at the peak of the season. I also like doing a blend of peppers, this adds a nice color element to dishes you prepare using them.

Fire up your gas or charcoal grill and place the peppers whole directly on the grill. Grill your peppers over high heat until the skin is charred. Once the outer surface is mostly black immediatley dunk the peppers into cold water and rub the skin off with your hands (it will come off quite easily). After the pepper is skinned, slice the peppers, remove the seeds and core and place into a clean jar with a bit of good olive oil and place in the fridge.

The larger pods of the Ancho, Poblano and New Mexican chile peppers are often roasted and peeled to enhance flavor, romance and texture. You can roast peppers in your kitchen if you have a gas grill or even better yet a charcoal grill, oh so good!

  • First cut a small slit near the stem to allow steam escape. You don't want exploding peppers do you ?

  • Place peppers over an open flame. You can place the pepper right on the grate or 4 to 5 inches from the charcoal.

  • Turn the pepper frequently, until the flame has blistered the skin on all sides but don't completely blacken the pepper. However, be sure that the pods are evenly blistered all over or they might not peel properly. The idea is to use intense heat for a short period of time.

  • Using tongs remove the chile peppers from the flame, and place it on a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 to 20 minutes. Or, refrigerate the covered plate overnight. This steeping process allows the skin to pull away from the pepper's flesh, making the pepper easier to peel.

  • To peel the pepper, place it under cool, running water and pull the blistered skin away from the pepper's flesh. The skin should come off in small sheets.

    Now what to do once you have a naked peeled chile pepper in your hands ? My favorite to chop or blend equal amounts of roasted chile peppers and tomatoes, add little garlic and salt and you have the best darn fresh salsa anywhere. Beer is not only recommend but considered by some as essential.

  • I feel compelled to point out that you don't need a gas grill or barbecue (BBQ to some) to make roasted peppers, although it does help. I can't have a barbecue in my apartment, much as I'd like one, and I only have an electric stove, but I roast peppers all the time. Like LordOmar, I prefer red or yellow bell peppers.

    You can roast your peppers whole, or cut them up first. Whole peppers have the advantage of exuding tasty juices as they cool, and this juice does much to enhance the flavour of, say, soups or dressings; the disadvantage is they are a little harder to seed than raw peppers. If you cut the pepper into flat sections first, it's much easier to just rip out the seeds before you begin roasting, but you don't get those tasty juices. If a little extra effort doesn't bother you, I recommend you to do them whole; if you want quick and easy, cut them up first.

    Now then, the goal in roasting is, as the lord says, to char the skin totally. Charred skin will peel off quickly and easily, while just sort of seared skin will stick and make you swear. A barbecue, especially one that has a closing top, will make quick and easy work of achieving the total char. Alternatively, grill your peppers directly on a gas burner of your stove (cooker to some) - this works best with whole peppers - or under the broiler of a gas or electric oven - this will work with whole peppers or flat pieces. Go for totally blackened skin all around.

    I've never heard of plunging them into water; I always put the charred peppers in a bowl and cover them with anything handy. An Italian told me you have to cover the bowl with newspaper - though he didn't say why - and being a skeptical type, I disregarded this bit of lore. Anyway, the point of covering the peppers is to let the flesh steam a bit to further soften and cook it. When cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin and discard the stem and seeds, if present. Keep the tasty juices that have collected in the bottom of the bowl, as I mentioned above, and add it to whatever seems like it needs a flavour jolt. Be creative.

    Without oil to protect them from air, roasted peppers will only keep for a few days in the fridge, but they freeze well. So I usually roast lots of peppers in the fall (autumn to some), when they're cheap and plentiful, and freeze them in small batches so I can thaw them out in the frosty middle of our nasty Toronto winter and make a lovely roasted pepper vinaigrette (use a blender), or a dip like this one, or have them on an hors d'oeuvre plate, or...

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