A few years ago, roasted red pepper became the flavor of the month, and it’s stayed popular. After all, it’s spicy with a touch of sweetness, and easier on the stomach than raw red pepper, or even stir-fried or baked. The whole secret is in removing the pepper’s skin, which is the part that’s hard to digest. So how do you peel a pepper?
You don’t. The roasting process burns the skin so that you can pull it off in flakes once it cools — but gets the flesh underneath soft and mellow tasting. Don’t ask me how, but it works like magic.
There are several ways to do it at home. What’s usually recommended is baking in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so each side. This is easy but time-consuming. As our chef notes, if you have a kitchen torch you can use that. There’s also fire-roasting — you’ll see “fire-roasted red pepper” often on restaurant menus and commercial food labels, because it sounds so neat. It’s literally what it sounds like; you hold the pepper on a long stick or fork over a flame till the skin is charred and the inner flesh is cooked. Or I suppose you could build a campfire and have the whole family gather around to roast peppers instead of marshmallows. I don’t know how your kids would like that. Anyway, this is also time-consuming and not easy at all.
So what’s the quick and easy way, which you can trust me to have found? Cooking them under your broiler.
It takes a little more prep than other methods. You’ll need to cut off the tops of the peppers, cut them in half, and cut or scrape out all the seeds and membranes. Then, get them to lie as flat as possible. Making a few cuts, or even going over them with a rolling pin, may help with this.
Grease a baking sheet, or even just a piece of aluminum foil (that’s what I do — nothing to wash). Lay out the pepper halves and put them under the hot broiler till the skin chars. This can take as little as five minutes. Keep an eye on them, turn the stove’s fan on, and don’t let them go past the point where the skin is mostly charred, or the flesh will dry out.
When they’re done, put them carefully into a covered container or a paper (not plastic!) bag, and refrigerate till they’re cool enough to pull the skins off.
If your broiler is under the oven and receives heat even when the broiler itself isn’t turned on, you can roast the peppers there while you’re baking something else. Whatever you do, check on them frequently, as it is possible for the flesh to overcook and dry out once the skin is done.
You don’t have to stick to red peppers either — yellow, orange, and even green peppers are great roasted.