Thursday, October 18, 2012

Roasted Peppers

A guest post from Adam Kuban

"Roast peppers directly over the flame of a gas-stove burner."

There's no recipe instruction I love reading more than that. It's elemental not only in the FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! sense but also in its simplicity. No pans required, no other ingredients necessary. Just blacken that pepper all over, throw it in a paper bag to steam and loosen its skin, and then rub away the charred surface.

The process is deeply sensuous, too. The sound of gas rushes through the burner before the ignitor sparks to life. Click-click-click-click-WHOOSH. A blue halo of flame dances below the grate. Above, a plump, bright-red pepper hisses, spits, and crackles as it chars. An earthy aroma fills the kitchen, and sparks ride the updraft as tongs jostle ashes loose from the skin.

A coal-black pepper looks absolutely ruined after a few minutes, but as you remove it from the bag and rub off the skin, you reveal the transformed flesh below, now deep-red, tender, and sweet. Mine most often find their way onto a pizza or two, but they're great on sandwiches, in omelets, in pasta, you name it. Roasted peppers, to me, are so delicious that this simple method almost feels like a cheat.

I learned this "trick" so long ago that I sometimes forget how magical it can seem. And how liberating—it's like an indoor open campfire. I mentioned this over Twitter once, and folks suggested toasting marshmallows or making s'mores in the same way. Or warming tortillas directly on the grate. It makes me wonder what else I could use this method for—and what other simple tricks like this I've overlooked.

If only every recipe could begin this way.