Cooking Basics – Roast a Chili Pepper
I’m going to be doing a new series of “Cooking Basics” or building blocks to great cooking. I thought I’d start this series because people ask me about various techniques and terms. The questions range from what to eat for dinner tonight, to what something means, or how to do something, or exactly what this other thing is. Whatever the question, I try my best to explain, but sometimes pictures and detailed instructions are the best explanation. I’ll try to include options and various cooking gadgets to cover all the different basics.
Of course, the best way to learn is to do it. So, please be sure to try out new techniques and new ideas. And, let me know if you find something new that you like. I’m always trying to learn new stuff as well.
Also, a friend of mine was asking for me to teach a cooking class. I think I might have to do that – it sounds like fun. So, maybe after the beginning of the year I’ll have to schedule a class or a cooking club, and we can get together and cook.
So, for the first installment of Cooking Basics, I’m presenting…
“How to Roast a Chili Pepper”
Place the pepper directly on the grate of a gas burner. The grill is my favorite place to roast the chile because it keeps the smells outside, but the stove-top works just as well. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can place the pepper on a baking sheet under the broiler.
Allow the skin of the chile to blacken and char.
Using tongs, turn the chile over so that it has a chance to blacken on each side. The top will be difficult to char due to the stem, just try to get it as black as possible without catching the stem on fire.
What you’re doing by blackening the chile is burning the skin off. The skin is tough and not really tasty anyway, so the blacker you get the chile, the more skin you’re getting off, the better the chile will taste.
Place the thoroughly blackened chile in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (this is the method I prefer – I think there’s a better final product, and there’s less trash at the end). Or, place the pepper in a plastic ziptop bag, and seal the bag. Or, place the pepper in a brown paper sack and fold the top down to keep the heat in the bag. Allow the pepper to steam for about 10 minutes. This step helps to soften the flesh of the pepper, and helps to loosen the skin. It also helps to cool the pepper down so that you can easily touch it.
For this next step, you may wish to wear gloves, especially if you’re sensitive to chilies, or if you’re working with a lot of chilies, as the capsicum may burn your skin and leave you feeling tingly. Take the chile out of the bowl (or bag), and rub the skin with your fingers to get the blackened peel off of the chile. You can run the chile under running tap water to help move the blackened peel away. (This is the messiest step).
Using a sharp knife, cut the flesh of the chile away from the stem. Remove the seeds and the membranes inside. The membranes and the seeds are where the majority if the heat is located. (Take a look at my past post on chilies to learn more). If you wish to leave a little extra heat in your chile, you may leave a little more of the membrane and seeds.
At this point, your roasted chile is ready to be cut to the size you want, and to be eaten.
I love adding the roasted chilies to tacos. Just cut them into long strips and toss into tortillas with the rest of your fillings.
You can use your roasted chilies in Mexican Roasted Poblano and Corn Soup – I’ll be sharing that recipe with you tomorrow.