Hot or not? Yes. No. Quite possibly.
For any of you who can’t tolerate the heat, these little padróns’ siren song is truly dangerous. Or so I hear. It is rare that I eat a padrón pepper that has any heat. But even the every once in a great while that I do, I don’t know if I’ve just been lucky, but it’s been pretty mild and it certainly didn’t stop me from eating the whole batch of them all by myself (like the 15 or so I had during yesterday’s lunch).
According to my close friend Wikipedia, the amount of water and sunlight the plant receives while growing will determine the level of hotness. According to other “friends” (i.e. all the hits on the first page of my Google search), they just don’t know. The same plant, some claim, can yield both hot and not hot peppers. If I ever have my own yard to grow any, I’ll let you know what happens; but for now, I will keep buying these inexpensive little baskets of peppers while the late summer pepper explosion continues.
I love the taste of a little char on my vegetables, and luckily for all of us, you don’t need to set up your grill to prepare this quick little treat. A good pan, some oil, the peppers and a bit of salt will do it.
I like to use canola oil on my 10-inch cast iron pan for these. The oil’s flavor is neutral so you won’t be masking any of the peppers’ flavor, and it also works well for the medium-high heat you’ll be using. I read a lot of recipes that call for high heat, but that colored my peppers to quickly without giving me the softer texture I prefer. Once you try this a couple of times, you’ll know what you like. You don’t have to use cast iron. My only other pans are much smaller and much bigger, so my choice was purely about size.
A basket of padrón peppers (or however many will fit into your pan)
1-2 tablespoons canola oil (again, the amount will depend on the size of your pan)
Optional: olive oil for drizzling
Heat the canola in a pan over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke.
Add the peppers to the pan in a single layer.
Allow peppers to cook without moving for 30 seconds.
Using tongs, check to see the level of blistering on a few peppers in different areas of your pan. By this time, they are likely ready for either a good shake to turn these little guys, or you can turn each one individually (I went for the latter to guarantee even charring. I never get all the sides charred when I rely only on shaking the pan. The pan shake looks pretty cool, though.) Some of the stems on this batch were so long, I just turned them using their stems. And yes, I did get a few painful pops of oil on me. Use the tongs.
Turn occasionally until you are satisfied with the color on your peppers. I usually find this takes me about 2 minutes more or less. Don’t hold yourself to a specific time, just get the color you want all over the pepper.
Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil if you like.
Some other ideas for how to eat your peppers:
Put them in a quesadilla (I loved this)
Dip them in a chimichurri sauce (sounds weird, but I loved this, too)
Eat them all by yourself when no one else is home. Air the place out, wash the pan and recycle the little basket before anyone comes home so no one feels left out.