Okay, I know that a lot of you are going to think I am crazy for making my own roasted red peppers. You’ll say, “Fig, they’re so easy to get in a jar at the store and they are really relatively inexpensive.” Sure. I agree with you. But my counterpoints are as follows:
1. At least at this time of year, you can buy the peppers at a farmer’s market and know they were locally sourced and organically/sustainably grown
2. You can control the amount of salt added and avoid any preservatives
3. They are so easy to make if you have a little patience and a gas stove
4. They make your kitchen smell amazing
5. They taste fresher than those in a jar
So, here’s how to do it. First off, don’t think you have to babysit the peppers, in spite of the fact that you are putting them on an open flame. The point is that you want to actually burn the skins to the point where they are as black as possible. All you do is turn on the flame of your stove top (adjust to whatever is comfortable to you — I go to a medium high) and then place the pepper directly on the grate of the burner. You’ll want to go a little off-center so that the flame hits the skin directly; remember you are charring the peppers, not lightly toasting them. My next advice is to do something else in the near proximity, but don’t hover. You really need a good char on all sides for this to work, so each time you turn the pepper, go do something else like wipe up the counter or finish the dishes. Ultimately, you want the pepper to look like the one above.
Once you achieve maximum char (there will still be a few uncharred bits in the deep creases of the pepper), place the pepper into a paper bag and roll it closed so that it continues to steam. After it is cool enough to touch, simply rub the charred skin off into rubbish or compost and you end up with pepper that looks like this:
Use in any fashion you see fit. I find they are especially good on sandwiches and in the next (kick ass) recipe I plan to post.