How To Handle Peppers Recipe

Step 1

Many recipes calling for peppers--sweet bell or fiery chilie--bury the elusive line "roasted, peeled, seeded and..." in the ingredient listed. There are many ways to accomplish this task. No caveats are necessary for sweet bell peppers, but exercise certain precautions in handling chilies containing potent oils. Old-fashioned cookbooks call for wearing rubber gloves when handling chilies. Instead, cut hot chilies on a plate that can be washed in the dishwasher, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling them, and never touch your skin until you've washed your hands. And don't handle hot chilies under running water, since that spreads the oil vapors upward to your eyes. Achieving perfect peppers is a two-part process, heating and then cooling them, so the skin separates from the flesh. For recipes like pepper salad, in which the peppers should retain firmness, it is better to roast and chill them quickly. For recipes such as a sauce in which the pepper is pureed, more tender peppers are desirable. When roasting hot chilies, make a small slit at the stem since they occasionally explode. Here are ways to heat peppers: o For a large number of peppers, and to retain the most texture, lower peppers gently into 375F oil and fry until the skin blisters. Turn them with tongs when one side is blistered, since they will float on the surface. This method is also the most effective if peppers are not perfectly shaped, since it is difficult to get the heat from a broiler into the folds of peppers. Here are other ways to heat peppers: o Place the peppers 6 inches from the broiler element of the stove, turning them with tongs until all surfaces are charred. o Place the peppers 4 inches above a hot charcoal or gas grill, and turn them until the skin is charred. o Place a wire cake rack over a gas or electric burner. o Set the gas or electric burner at the highest temperature, and use tongs to turn the peppers on a wire cake rack until all surfaces are charred. o Place the peppers on a rack on a cookie sheet in a 550F oven until totally blistered. Only use this method for a sauce or other recipe in which the peppers are destined to be pureed. For cooling peppers, the options are not as plentiful: o Place them in ice water. This stops the cooking action immediately, and cools them enough to peel them within a minute. o The alternative is to wrap the peppers in a plastic bag and allow them to steam. This separates the flesh from the skin, but it will be 20 minutes or more before they can be handled. If you wrap peppers in a plastic bag to cool, they will soften in the time it takes for them to cool enough to be handled. There are no choices to make for the final step: Pull the skin off and remove the seeds. The bell can now be rinsed under cold water. From Prodigy Cooking Class

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