Friday, August 20, 2010

Poblano Peppers Packed in Oil

In my admittedly limited pepper-consuming career, I've come to the conclusion that the poblano is the perfect pepper. I particularly like them because they're satisfyingly spicy without inducing asthma or a heart attack, although they can give you the almost-pleasant runny nose effect. (There are times when you need some killer heat. For those times, seek out a habenero). Plus, if you cut up a poblano and then rub your eyes, it's not quite as sucky as the intensely burning mucous membranes you'll experience when you make the same mistake with a jalapeno.

Poblanos are pleasantly flavorful as well as spicy; the flavor is simultaneously stimulating and comforting, endorphin-releasing and soothing. The smell of roasting poblanos is purely mouth-watering, and our house feel like a home when it's infused with this scent. It actually does anyway, but I suppose that the smell of roasting poblanos can enhance the hominess.

We like to use poblanos in any number of things, including carne asada (grilled skirt steak served on tortillas with slices of roasted poblanos), rice, stuffed vegetables, quinoa salads, and potato gratins, to name a few.
You can use poblanos freshly roasted, or you can employ this oil-packing method, which was inspired by an article in Food and Wine. Basically, you roast some peppers, peel, seed, and slice them, and cover them with oil. The oil will keep them fresh for a little while, but it can go rancid. Thus, it's suggested that the peppers, like pesto or romesco, be frozen in little batches.

What's the point of doing such a thing, you ask? Well, have you ever wanted some spiciness but don't feel like going through the tedious process of roasting, peeling, seeding and chopping some peppers? I certainly have. So from now on, when I'm feeling a little lazy but want some peppery goodness, I'll just take a little packet of peppers from the freezer, and it will defrost in minutes.
For example, these peppers will be especially ideal for what we call Drunken Nachos. Drunken Nachos hail from the days when we were wild and crazy kids. We'd go out for the night and come home wanting some munchies. We generally had some nachos, cheese, canned corn and canned chiles laying around; thus, Drunken Nachos were born.

We're getting a bit too old for such shenanigans, but we've talked about doing an up-scale, more grown up version of Drunken Nachos. The tortilla chips are easy--we'll graduate from Tostitos to to some yummy organic ones, and we'll get some nice cheese. The corn could be fresh corn cut off the cob, or w ecould use some organic frozen corn, but that leaves the peppers. Roasted poblanos are the perfect solution, and the fact that we can have them laying around and readily accessible keeps this dish in the original spontaneous spirit of the Drunken Nachos.

Perhaps we'll even someday have a Grown-Up Drunken Nachos post. For now, though, I need to stop thinking about cheesy foods, because the patient that I just triaged threw up her Kraft Macaroni 'N' Cheese, and I feel like I smell like it.

So, you don't have to make Drunken Nachos, but I'm sure you can come up with some other uses for some oil-packed peppers. You don't have to use poblanos, either--you can use any kind of pepper that strikes your fancy.

Food and Wine suggested adding dried oregano to the oil, but I omitted it because I feel that it would work with red peppers, but not green ones. You, of course, can add oregano, cumin seeds, or whatever inspires you. You could use your oil-packed peppers in one of the applications mentioned above, or you could put them on burgers, pizzas, eggs...anything, really.

Poblano Peppers Packed in Oil

*This roasting method can be used for any pepper.
  • 1 pound fresh poblano peppers
  • About 1/2 cup canola oil
If you have a gas stove, turn a burner to high. If you have an electric stove, preheat the broiler. (A gas torch like the ones used for creme brulee would also work.) Place one or two peppers at a time directly onto the burner grate, and turn once the side facing the flame is thoroughly charred and blackened. Continue to turn until the whole pepper is charred. Alternatively, place all of the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and place under the boiler. Turn occasionally, until all sides are blackened.

When the peppers are thoroughly charred, place them in a paper bag and fold down the top, or place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. After about 10 minutes, remove the peppers and wipe their skins off with a paper towel. Cut the tops off, remove the seeds, and cut into strips. Depending on the application, cut the strips cross-wise to form a dice or leave them in strips.


Anonymous said...

I'm getting ready to grill some poblanos, anaheims and caribe peppers myself, as well as some tomatillos, as soon as the grill is ready.}:P

I'm using mine in a green chile sauce that'll be bagged up and frozen for future use.}:P

Leah said...

Those are some great ideas, wolfsilveroak! I like the idea of making and freezing a green sauce, and I like the idea of grilling the peppers.
I find that when you're motivated to do this type of task, it's sometimes best to make a large batch and save it for the days when you're not so motivated.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. Total I made 9 cups worth. 3 will get used today, but the other 6 were bagged up in 2 cup portions and frozen for future use. I find that doing this sort of thing when fresh peppers are in season, makes having great summery meals during winter that much easier and cheaper.}:P