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I roast red bell peppers all the time. I use a number of methods, but most typically I slice them in half longitudinally, roast at 450F cut side down on a foil lined sheet tray treated with non-stick spray until they are thoroughly blackened and blistered. Straight out of the oven I put them in a sealed Tupperware type container (to steam) until they are cool enough to handle, then the blackened skins come right off. Easy, and I love the results.

I'd love to do the same kind of thing with smaller, sometimes hotter peppers (jalapeno, serrano, poblano and even habanero), but my attempts have always failed. The outermost skin doesn't blister away from the "meat" of the pepper the way it does for bell peppers, and by the time the skins are blackened, the meat of the pepper is mush.

The biggest problem seems to be that the bell pepper has a thick, meaty, juicy (ready to generate steam) wall, while the other peppers do not. I can get that roasted caramelization effect easily with any pepper, but I'd like to eliminate most of the peel while maintaing some of the structure of the pepper. Does anyone know of a way to pull this off? (so to speak)

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I haven't tried this, so adding as a comment rather than an answer, but I suspect a blowtorch would work well. Put the peppers on a heat proof surface, torch one side til quite black, carefully turn (with tongs) and torch the other. Allow to cool, then rub off the skins. Using the torch should allow you to really decimate the skin without cooking the flesh so much that it is mushy, which makes removing the skin harder. You can always cook the flesh more afterwards. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Jan 17 at 15:15
    
@MichaelatHerbivoracious I'm going to try that. I also have the germ of an idea brewing in the back of my little-pea-brain that just might help make it work. –  Jolenealaska Jan 17 at 15:21
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@MichaelatHerbivoracious The blowtorch was successful! I just skewered the pepper and held the skewer instead of the torch. It only takes seconds. I'll add more here soon. With pictures! :) –  Jolenealaska Jan 21 at 14:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A lot of farmers markets here in the Southwest sell roasted peppers of all types. The guys roasting them at the market do so with direct application of flame (as from a blowtorch). I've tried it at home, and it seems to work pretty well. They key is to keep the flame moving (or to keep the peppers moving over the flame). The direct and very high heat of the flame combined with not letting it rest on any one spot for very long seems to effectively blister the skin without overcooking the chile.

After they've made it through the fire, the rest of your method should still work. Sometimes if they are particularly stubborn, I'll keep a small bowl of cool water to dip them in to help rinse the skins off. The water can then be strained and added to things as sort of a chile stock.

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You and Michael brought up the blowtorch at about the same time. I'm going to try it. –  Jolenealaska Jan 17 at 15:25
    
@Jolenealaska Awesome! At the markets, they have kind of a big tumbler made out of chicken wire that they use to keep the chiles rolling over the flame. If you need to roast a lot, you could try that. –  sourd'oh Jan 17 at 15:31
    
I do have experience using a torch and it works fine. I have even used the open flame on my stove. –  Chris Jan 19 at 5:22
    
It works! It works! (and I'm currently dealing with "flame mouth" after taste testing the results) I've accepted your answer, 'cause it works. I'm experimenting with something that might make it work even better, but either way I'm going to add an answer soon with neato pictures and stuff. :) –  Jolenealaska Jan 21 at 14:25

I've been slacking! Here are my (very overdue) experiment results.

The blowtorch worked like a charm for almost all of the smaller peppers. I skewered the peppers, charred the skins with the blowtorch, just holding the pepper by the skewer, then put them in a tupperware container to steam. After which, they peeled beautifully.

pepper1

pepper2

Before and after peeling.

pepper3

These are all roasted and peeled. Can you believe how colorful they still are?

The one pepper variety that gave me trouble with this method was the habanero. The surface is so wrinkled and the walls of the pepper are so thin, that the steaming didn't make them easy to peel. So I plumped them with salt water before charring using a needle and syringe. That worked!

habanero1

habanero2

The pepper on the right was plumped before charring. Like the rest of the peppers, it maintained it's meatiness that way.

Thanks Guys!

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