Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spanish Roulette Anyone? It's Padrone Season!

You know what's really great about late summer? Besides warm weather, long days and any excuse for a backyard barbecue? Padrone peppers. Or if your Spanish, pimientos de PadrĂ³n. When these little nuggets of deliciousness start showing up at the farmer's market, I grab them up like there's no tomorrow. Because literally, tomorrow they won't be there. They're always gone way too soon.

The deal with Padrones, or their cousins, the Shishito peppers (both from the capsicum annuum family; one popular in Spanish cuisine, the other in Japanese), is that they are so freaking simple to prepare and if you're like me, you literally can't stop eating them. Healthy, quick, delicious - what's not to like? Both peppers are very mild in flavor, but the Padrones have a hidden kick. As the title of this post suggests, eating them is called playing "Spanish Roulette," since about one in ten of the peppers has some heat to it (this according to my farmer dude). When that kick of heat shows up though, I love it! It's not even as hot as a jalapeno, so it's not like it will sear the taste buds off your tongue. Nope - just a welcome flame of warmth to liven things up a bit. If you're not a gambler, however, stick to the Shishitos - no heat there at all.

(The Padrones are short and squat - pictured above. The Shishitos are long and skinny - pictured below.)

Preparing them is a piece of cake: Place the peppers and a drizzle of good olive oil in a nice big frying pan, and simply saute them on high heat them until they're blistered. Sprinkle with a generous dose of kosher salt, and snacking heaven awaits.

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