Hot peppers are one of the items that are beyond plentiful in our CSA box this time of year. Like mint, hot peppers are something I struggle to use. This week I tried an experiment of roasting jalapenos and adding them to my beloved honey cornbread recipe. The results – delish!
First step first – roast up some peppers! Roasting peppers is a useful technique that can be applied to any pepper from the mild bell to the smokin’ hot ghost chilies. The technique remains the same regardless of the pepper. It starts by putting your washed and dried peppers over some major heat. If you’ve got a gas stove, this is the time to crank up the big burners. Put the peppers directly over the flame and let ’em burn. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can just as easily do this under the broiler, it just might take a little longer.
Here I’m working with a pepper that is smaller than the grate on my stove top so I’ve put a cooling rack over the burner to keep the pepper in place. If this is the first time you’ve roasted a pepper, you’re going to get nervous at this point. It’s burning! It’s turning black! You’ve spent years learning how not to turn food black and here you are watching it burn. That’s good. That’s what you want. You want this pepper to burn burn BURN. Just relax, take a sip of the old cooking wine, and keep rotating the pepper with a pair of tongs. In about five minutes you’ll have something that looks like this.
Nice and burned. What has happened is the tough outer skin of the pepper has burned and blistered while the inside of the pepper has softened and developed a more mild flavor. While the pepper is still hot put it directly into a plastic container or zip top bag. Close it up tight and wait about 5 minutes. Then take it out and gently rub the skin with a paper towel or cloth. The outer burned skin should rub off easily leaving you a perfect roasted pepper like this.
Perfect! Now this pepper is ready to find a new home in whatever you can dream up. In this case, honey jalapeno cornbread. In order to make the cornbread, I opened the pepper and deseeded and deveined it. Then I chopped it up extremely fine and added it straight into the completed batter. The recipe for the batter follows.
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 c cream
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c honey
Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Separately combine all the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stir together until just combined. Add the jalapeno or whatever other peppers you might want to use at this time. Pour the batter into a greased 9×9 baking pan and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. When I made this yesterday I didn’t have any cream on hand so I used skim milk. I didn’t notice any change in texture or flavor, so I’m comfortable claiming that you can substitute whatever milk you have on hand if cream isn’t available.