In a small town not far outside Santiago, Spain, the capital of the northwest province of Galicia and endpoint of the pilgrims of St. James, is Padrón, where grow little green peppers that are the stuff of dreams. We spent a few days of our honeymoon in Santiago, stayed in the oldest continuously running hotel in the world, and sipped honey-thick drinking chocolate under a cafe awning during a rain squall. We sampled squid in ink and braised octopus. But we did not have pimientos de Padrón, even though we were mere miles from their namesake and in the political state where nearly all of the world’s supply are harvested. Instead, I had them last month in Sisters, Oregon (more on this later), on the continent where the peppers originated but scarcely grow today.
If you see them, buy them—all of them—immediately. They are soft and smoky and couldn’t be easier to make. Clean them and pat dry thoroughly. Coat in lard, my preference for high-heat cooking (or olive oil, the fat traditionally used), and grill or pan-fry them over high heat until they are blackened and blistered. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately. People (read: me) eat these like candy.
Each time I’ve eaten or bought these—at least four times since my introduction about a month ago—I am warned that one in 10 are spicy, a warning that my own consumption has substantiated. The other 90 percent are so gently spicy that even the most heat-averse eater will enjoy them, except perhaps little, little people, like Elinor.
L O C A L S O U R C E S .
- Lard. Bi-Rite Market, Prather Ranch Meat Co., Fatted Calf; render your own.
- Pimientos de Padrón. Tierra Vegetables and Allstar Organics, both at the Saturday Ferry Building market.
- Unrefined sea salt. Rainbow Grocery’s bulk section.
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