69 – Blistered Padrón Peppers (aka Russian Roulette Peppers)

As much as I love vacationing, I’ve recently discovered a massive downside to it: I can neither cook nor blog while I’m away. It’s been over a week since my last post, and I’m definitely feeling it. I was honestly afraid that, coming back to my kitchen, I’d fall into a funk.

Maybe I’d just want to take one extra day, then four or five, before jumping back into it; maybe I’d struggle for ages dreaming up the right recipe to cook up, wanting to make up for lost time with a real beauty. Maybe I’d suffer from one of those problems, or maybe something worse, like completely losing my cooking mojo. Thankfully, before even returning home, I already had both a recipe in mind, and all the ingredients to pull it off.

If you’re not familiar with Padrón peppers, they’re a variety from Spain that are known for being highly unpredictable. They’re usually served as tapas, having been fried in oil, and while the majority are quite mild in both taste and heat, every so often you’ll get a Padrón that is particularly hot. Because of this unpredictability, this potential for a mouthful of heat, they’re often associated with Russian Roulette).

I was first introduced to these peppers only a few weeks ago while catching the tail end of Vancouver’s Trout Lake Farmer’s Market. My cousin Kevin, along with his wife, owns and operates Klippers Organic Acres, one of the vendors at that market as well as numerous others around Vancouver. Though all of their Padróns had already been purchased or spoken for by the time my wife and I arrived, he showed me what they looked like, and described the basic preparation methods for the peppers.

He said something to the effect of: “You’ve got to try these peppers – they’re like Russian Roulette because about every every so often you get one that’s hot. You just fry them up in some olive oil, add some salt – maybe some garlic – and sit around on your deck popping them in your mouth.”

klippers
My cousin Kevin, picking peppers at his farm in Cawston, B.C.. I didn’t ask him to pose. In fact, he doesn’t know I took this…

It sounded wonderful – something I’d love to try – but alas, he had none to sell me at the moment. Fast forward to this past Saturday, and my wife and I just happen to be passing within a few kilometres of their family farm in B.C.’s Similkameen Valley while on our way back from our road trip vacation. Perhaps, before they make the long drive to Vancouver to sell at the markets, they could leave out a few Padróns for us to swing by and pick up? Even better, they stayed home for the weekend (sending others to work the markets) and greeted us with coffee, pictures from the first of their exciting long table dinner series, and a full bag of organic Padróns. Kevin actually walked out to the field to pick them as we were about to leave, so they were as fresh as possible for us. He even threw in some of the best garlic bulbs I’ve ever worked with, adding to our haul.

I ended up making two separate batches of these peppers today, experimenting with the technique and levels of seasoning. I ate about twenty in total, had probably two where I could notice a hint of spice, and one where the heat was very much in my face – or in my mouth, to be exact. If my bag of peppers averages out to the norm, I’m in for some serious heat when I fry up the rest in a few days.

I’ve clearly made up for lost time with how much I’ve gone on about these peppers already though, so let’s get to the recipe…


Blistered Padrón Peppers

Ingredients:2015-07-26 18.02.03

  • Olive Oil
  • Padrón Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt

Directions:

  • Add a few lugs of oil to a pan and heat over medium to medium-high, until the oil is just slightly smoking.
  • Toss in the peppers (a handful or a full pan’s worth) and sauté them for about 3 minutes, tossing them often to evenly blister the peppers.
  • Add the garlic (1-2 medium sized cloves, sliced thinly and then roughly chopped), and continue sautéing for 60-90 seconds.
  • Remove the peppers from the pan and transfer to a bowl (don’t take all the garlic with the peppers, just the pieces that cling to the Padróns).
  • Season the peppers with salt, tossing in the bowl to ensure even coverage. Season lightly, taste, and add more if necessary.
  • Plate these babies, take them out to your deck/patio, and knock them back like you’re eating grapes off the vine. Speaking of grapes, make sure to pair with a delicious sweet white wine, such as a Viognier, Gewürztraminer, or a white blend including either of those.

    You’ll notice in my pictures that I ate these alongside some Italian Sausage Crostinis, a tasty little appetizer which I hope to post very soon. Accompanying this meal is a wine my wife and I picked up while on our vacation, a white blend called “Honest John’s” from the top-notch Road 13 Vineyards, located in Oliver, B.C..

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2015-07-26 17.55.43

2015-07-26 18.01.45

2015-07-26 17.53.25 (2)

Blistered Padron Peppers

Please note that though I mention both Klippers Organic Acres and Road 13 Vineyards, I have not been compensated in any way by either company (aside being provided with peppers and garlic by my cousin Kevin). I simply appreciate their products and am happy to promote them. That being said, if Road 13 were to send a thank-you bottle (or case) my way, I wouldn’t turn it down…

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