Monday, February 8, 2010


Last night's supper was straight off the grill---neither rain nor sleet nor . . . certainly applies to Chris and his new grill. Weather matters not to him, except for maybe a thunderstorm, for he doesn't like to be out under all the big trees in the yard with lightning flashing.

But last night---though we've been in Indy for almost twenty years, we're not football fans---never have been, and so we ate our supper on trays, watching "Out of Africa" and popping back to the game for the few seconds it took to read the score.

He went out about four and put a pork butt on the grill, with strategically-placed charcoal and water pan, for the perfect ratio of heat to position to steam to smoke---he could probably write it in those undecipherable heiroglyphs on a clearboard, like Charlie on NUMBERS.

And he also put on half a dozen bright red bell peppers. We learned the trick of grilling them from a friend the first year we were here; once when they were invited to a cookout, she brought a big grocery bag full of the peppers, along with a head of garlic and some lovely Ligurian Olive Oil. Chris put on the peppers before he did the actual grilling, got them to a good char, and put them back into the double paper bag for her.

When they were just cool enough to handle, she showed me how to peel and seed them, as she had learned from her Italian Dad. She cut them into strips, then dressed them warm with an oil-and-garlic mixture. We couldn't wait, and ate about half the lot before dinner was ready. So we do peppers quite often; I love having them on hand for antipasto platters, for a simple side dish, or for the glorious hot toss of steaming pasta, the pepper strips in their sumptuous oil, and great snowings of fresh-grated Parmesan. A quick and wonderful dish.

So, here's the easy way to have one of the best "Things in Dishes" in your fridge all the time:

Roast several peppers on your grill when it's very hot, right above the flame or just the glow, making sure to turn them often. They will blacken in a lot of places, and look absolutely inedible sometimes, but that peels right off later.

As soon as they're pretty blackened all over, put them into a double paper bag, roll it down to seal, and let them steam in there for at least twenty minutes. This will keep cooking the meat of the peppers, plus it will loosen the skin, which will slip right off like pink/black cellophane.
Take them out onto a tray (save all that wonderful flavored juice) and let them cool til you can handle them.

While they're cooling, smash-peel several cloves of garlic, salt them well with seasalt on the cutting board, and smush and chop them small. Put them into about a quarter- cup of good olive oil, stir, and leave to mingle the flavors.

Peel---most of it can be accomplished by just rubbing them with your fingers---if you have to actually PEEL a bit of it, it should come off easily.

Then give the stem a little twist to separate it from the flesh, and most of the seeds will come right out with it. Lay the opened pepper out flat onto the tray, and run your index finger flat from one end to the other of the inside; the seeds will smooth right off onto the tray. Tip the tray to send all the juice to one side, then wipe up what seeds you can---I think a few winking golden in the bowl are a nice touch.

Cut the peppers into strips or bite-size, put them into a bowl with all the accumulated juices, then pour in the flavored oil. Our friend had tossed it together, garlic and all, but I don't like to get a PING of raw garlic, so I strain it on.

Smushing it down to get all the flavor:

And ready for the fridge: A LOVELY Thing in a Dish.

And, building to a crescendo---the PORK:

In all its crisp, fall-apart glory. We had it on buns with Sweet Baby Ray's Brown Sugar sauce, and I'll cook some of it some more this week, in a one-pan dish---layered with onions, potatoes and cabbage, the pan wrapped in foil, and into an easy oven for an hour-and-something, and there you are. A Sum of its Parts slumgullious dinner, easy as pie.

As I said, we're not sports people, so I'd have been happy with either outcome of the game---Hometown Guys or New Orleans.
But it did give me a thrill of happy, after seeing these years of the destruction and loss and upheaval from homes and absolute refusal to be defeated, to see those Saints go Marchin' In.


Southern Lady said...

Oh, my goodness, Rachel ... my mouth is watering at just the thought of that delicious-looking pork layered with potatoes, onions, and cabbage ... as if the thought of it on buns with that yummy-sounding sauce wasn't enough!

We watched "Out of Africa" last week and I enjoyed it as if I was seeing it for the first time. Meryl Streep is awesome and so natural in any part she plays, and, of course, Robert Redford was so boyishly handsome back then.

I was happy to see the Saints end their season in a blaze of glory, too. They played hard and well and deserved to win!

Maggie Norman said...

Neither of us are football fans either. But you know our daughter in law is from New Orleans. She and Patrick spent the week-end in New Orleans enjoying some of the mardi gra parades for families and then watching the game. And so they are very proud to say WHO DAT CAN BEAT THEM SAINTS!

Keetha said...

I love roasted red peppers! Yum.

I'm a football fan and found myself the teeniest born torn - Peyton, who we claim as a Mississippi boy, or the Saints, the closet we have to a hometown team? I'd have been happy either way but I cheered for the Saints. That city needed a victory!

Sook said...

This looks great!