I’m not much of a gambler. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even played roulette. But every June through September, when Padron peppers are in season, I try my luck. The age-old Galician adage (where this chile pepper originated) says it all: “Padron peppers, some are hot and some are not.” You see, Padron peppers are generally a mild, fruity chile pepper but approximately 1 of every 5 has a fiery heat — hence the reason eating them has been coined playing pepper roulette.
If you’re up for some gambling of your own, visit your local farmer’s market (they’re in season until late September) or order them online and then cook them up in the classic Spanish tapas style: charred in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. Once you’re hooked (because you will be, I’m sure), let your culinary creativity run wild.
Here are a few ways I use them: grilled whole and used in place of bell peppers in a salad; layered on a baguette with a slather of tapenade, some cured ham, and sheep’s milk cheese (like Manchego) for a vegetarian sandwich; cut into strips and folded into quesadillas; or stuffed with a mild cheese and baked until heated through. But before you do any of that, promise me you’ll try them simply charred so you taste the fabulous flavor of these fruity chile peppers.
Pretty. Easy. Pimientos de Padron Recipe
I call this a “Pretty. Easy. recipe” because it is so simple and easy to remember, but here are basic instructions. Before you get gambling, there are a few things of note, namely: 1) I use Maldon salt here though any other good-quality coarse sea salt will do 2) You can add a sprinkling of spice to the final dish for some variety, both ground coriander and ground cumin work especially well 3) Throw in some diced prosciutto or whole garlic cloves to the oil for another layer of flavor 4) Don’t let the oil get too hot or the peppers might pop or spit oil at you! 5) Cool, strain, and keep the frying oil for up to 1 week and use anywhere you want add a hint of spice.
Rinse the peppers and dry very well. Place a large (about 12-inch) heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron skillet works great) on the stove over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan by about 1 inch.
When the olive oil starts to ripple and just begin smoke, add a single layer of whole peppers (you may have to do this in batches). Cook the peppers until they get charred and blistered on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove the peppers to a paper towel-lined plate and let drain briefly. As needed, continue to fry the peppers in batches. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Hold the pepper by the stem, bite down and eat everything but the stem.
Pretty Easy is a monthly feature showcasing doable, yet interesting recipes. Even those who claim they can’t cook, find success with these recipes.