Hot and spicy or meek and mild — all types of peppers have their fans. This month Rogue Valley peppers start to mature. Pretty soon there will be bushels to pick, whether from your garden or at growers markets. Don't worry about having too many; roasted peppers are easy to store.
"I buy a case of organic peppers in the summer when they cost about $2 a pound," says Marilyn Moore, instructor at Southern Oregon University and Allyson's Kitchen in Ashland.
Preparation: 40 minutes.
Cooking: 5-10 minutes.
8-12 whole, roasted and peeled fresh green chilies
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into small finger shapes
Flour for dredging
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Safflower oil for shallow frying
3 cups tomato sauce
Mix all the batter ingredients except the egg whites in a food processor, blend until smooth. Make a slit in the side of a chile and insert the cheese. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter from the food processor. Carefully dredge the chile in flour, shake off the excess.
Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet. When a drop of batter bubbles and starts to puff as soon as it hits the oil, it is ready to fry the rellenos. Dip each chile into the batter. The chile should be about double in size with the batter. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the chile to the hot oil. Fry for just a minute or two on each side, so the batter puffs and turns a golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with tomato sauce or salsa.
Chile Verde with Pork
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cumin
11/2 cups chicken stock
10-12 fresh Anaheim green chilies, roasted, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
8 ounces lean pork cut into 1 inch square
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about five minutes. Raise the heat to medium and add the flour and cumin. Cook for about two minutes. When the flour begins to color, remove the pan from the heat and add the stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat.
Serve with hot flour tortillas or over basmati rice.
Note: Canned or frozen chilies may be substituted for fresh.
— Recipes courtesy of Mary Shaw, culinary educator, Ashland Food Co-op
To store bell peppers, chop them, remove the seeds and stems, then spread them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment and freeze, says Moore. Once frozen, place them in plastic bags and they'll be ready when you need them.
Moore also roasts peppers with tomatoes, garlic and onion, which she then stores in 2-cup portions.
"Then when I want tomato sauce in the winter, boom, there it is."
Planning ahead is the key to quality for frozen food, says Moore. Defrosting food in the cooking process will destroy the food integrity, she says. "It turns to mush."
She recommends taking peppers out of the freezer a day before you'll need them.
The most economical and efficient way to roast peppers is in the oven, says Mary Shaw, culinary education specialist at the Ashland Food Co-op. "Put them on a cookie sheet about 2 to 3 inches from the broiler and turn it on," says Shaw. "The goal is to blister the skin. It'll turn brown and split in places."
When you see this happening, pull them out of the oven and, using tongs, turn them over. Repeat on the other side. For immediate use, place in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes. They will "sweat," making the skin easier to remove. Do that near the sink and rinse as needed.
You can skip that step if you plan to freeze the roasted peppers. The skin will fall off when you defrost them, says Shaw. Moderate the heat by removing the heat source — the seeds and internal veins.
So get plenty of peppers while the price is good. Then all year long you can cook recipes like the ones that follow.