Pimento: Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Many recipes call for roasted peppers or pimientos (and yes, that is the proper spelling): Pimento cheese (that's how they spell it down south), potato salad, harissa, Italian sausage sandwiches, Italian beef sandwiches, omelets, risotto, and so many more recipes.
They're easy to make, cheaper than bottled, and you can buy peppers on sale, roast them, and freeze them. This technique works fine on most peppers. If you use hot peppers, wear rubber gloves or a baggie on your hands.
1) Slice the peppers in half, strip out the seeds, ribs, and stems, and rinse them.
2) Place the two halves, skin side down, on a hot grill or or over a gas stovetop burner. Or place them skin side up on a pan under a broiler.
3) Keep the heat on until the skin blisters and blackens, about 15 minutes. For thick walled peppers such as those wonderful big fat sweet red bell peppers, you can flip them over for a few minutes until they are cooked through and limp, but don't burn the meat side.
4) A lot of recipes say to seal them in a paper bag so steam can loosen the skin, but they're often dirty, so I just place them in a bowl and cover it with a plate.
5) After about 15 minutes, when they cool enough to handle, strip off as much of the skin as possible with your fingers, or lay them skin up and gently scrape off the skin with a steak knife. Don't worry if a few bits of skin remain. Discard the skin.
6) You can use them immediately or freeze them for months. Just put them in a zipper bag, drizzle in a little olive oil, squeeze out as much of the air as possible, zip it tight, squish them around so they are more or less coated in oil, write the date on the bag, and in the freezer they go.
Optional: Smoke 'em
Instead of grilling the peppers, put them in your smoker until they are soft and pliable and you can strip off the skins. If they don't come off easily, toss them on the hot grill until they are charred.
This page was revised 8/14/2010
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