Local Food and Seasonal Ingredients

In Spain, Padrón Peppers Reign Supreme

By Seth Fera-Schanes

August is closing out and the promise of fall is just around the corner.  During this season, farmers at the markets around the city start bringing in their new crop of peppers.  The global range is quite impressive from Thai Bird’s Eye, Brazilian Cumari, Hungarian Wax and even the infamous Ghost Pepper.  This is not to say all the peppers in the market break the Scoville scale.  There are other varieties starting at a very mild heat and always packed with lots of flavor.

One of the peppers I discovered a few years ago is famous in Spain.  Luckily these fantastic peppers are also available in New York City during this time of the year.  The Padrón range in size from about 2-4 inches.  They have thicker walls and feel a little meatier than other peppers.  Approximately 1 in 10 is hot.  You will usually see signs posted at the market about a type of “Pepper Roulette” where everyone eats the peppers and you watch for who gets the hot one.  To be clear, hot for these peppers will wake you up but not put you down.  I actually like the occasional kick.

The Padróns are currently in contention with Shishito for my favorite pepper.  The texture and flavor is incredible.  I will buy around 1/2 pound in the morning and then make them on a Saturday afternoon.  Add a little Manchego cheese and Serrano ham on the side and you have a nice Spanish themed lunch.

Padrón peppersPreparation is simple.  Cook in a little olive oil over medium low heat for around 10 minutes, turning occasionally.  You are looking for the skin to start to char and blister.  Once finished, add a little coarse sea salt to taste and serve with a side of lemon wedges.

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