Geography of Peppers
I love the smell of roasting peppers. I’ve roasted peppers before, but I learned a new trick today from the cookbook. The recipe in Damn Good Food had me brush the peppers with peanut oil before putting them under the broiler. The oil made them nice and charred and made peeling the skins off that much easier. Mitch points out that a little pepper skin in the purée won’t really hurt, but easier is always better.
The peppers I used for this were common red bell peppers or Capsicum annuum. It’s a little cold in Minnesota to grow peppers right now so these were grown in Chula Vista, CA. (I got transferred twice at the grocery store before someone could provide me with that information.) It’s not too surprising that they are from California because according to USDA almost half of the peppers grown in this country are grown in California. The next closest state is Florida with about about 35% and the third largest pepper growing state is New Jersey. That’s right I said New Jersey, they don’t call it the garden state for nothing. During the harvest season in NJ the growers there provide all the peppers for the hungry people of New York City, which is about 100 million pounds of peppers. Peppers are grown commercially in all but two states with various harvest times depending on the climate. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I ate peppers growing up. I realize this might be specific to me given the meat and potatoes menu I had as a kid, but I just don’t think they were that prevalent. Nowadays, however, about 1 in 4 people will eat bell peppers each day in the US. That’s the same amount of people who eat fresh market tomatoes and tomatoes are in practically everything.
Preparing the purée was quick and I was very pleased with the result. I tried a little on a cracker and it matched the spicy smokiness (smoky spiciness?) that I smelled while the peppers were roasting. This recipe is an ingredient for an ingredient of the meal I am making on Saturday. When I was done making this I had a sort of ‘Aha!’ moment where I wondered what else I could put this in. I’ll be using it again for other Mitch Omer recipes, but my thought was on trying to come up with something on my own where I could use this flavor. I’m thinking I might be able to just mix this in with a store bought Alfredo sauce and serve over pasta. Maybe I could use it when sautéing chicken or bake some tilapia with just this purée and some butter for seasoning. I guess it wasn’t so much an ‘Aha!’ moment as a ‘Yum!’ moment.
Recipe #9: Roasted Red Pepper Purée
Damn Good Food Quote of the Day: Never, ever buy roasted peppers in a jar. It’s Ridiculous.