Monday, 4 July 2011

Flame On!

Spiedini di Manzo con "Pimientos de Padron"
Skewered Beef with "Pimientos de Padron"

Ok- let me just put the record straight... it was the Spanish that invented "Russian Roulette", not the Russians. The Spanish version is green and natural and goes by the name of "Pimientos de Padron". The Russians just made up a game with a gun. The Spanish will blow your brains (and your taste buds) out, with their little green peppers. You know- the ones that are harmless and sweet and delicious... unless you pick out the one in ten that will have you gasping for a drink or dialing 911 and calling an ambulance!

I love pimientos de padron- and yes, 9 out of ten of them are going to be mild and sweet and delicious. It's just every now and again that you are going to get one of the really hot ones! I guess it is just one of natures little practical jokes, but it is just the way these little suckers grow! There is no way of knowing if they are going to be mild and sweet, or ferocious and hot, until you bite into one. And what usually happens, is that you will eat a whole lot of them and enjoy them completely, and it will be that last one that you pick up that will finish you off!

Traditionally, the Spanish will simply fry them in olive oil at a very high heat for just a few minutes and serve them with a sprinkling of sea salt. You pick them up by the stem, pop them into your mouth and hope you will be lucky! 

I wanted to make something a little more substantial out of mine though, and so I decided to skewer them between a strip of thinly sliced beef flank that I had left over. Just thread the strips of meat in and out, with an alternating pepper in-between. I turned up the heat to the max and got my grill pan hot and ready, added a small amount of olive oil and flash-fried the skewers for 2-3 minutes on either side. The meat browns quickly and the peppers sear and pop in the heat... you get a wonderful spicy aroma and being so small and with the meat so tender and thin, they are soon done. I drizzled mine with honey and sprinkled them with a mix of chopped rosemary and thyme. All you need now is a light sprinkle of coarse sea salt and you are ready to go!

I served mine up with some sliced apricot and cherry tomato, that I dressed in olive oil and the same chopped herbs, with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of the same coarse sea salt. The sweet fruitiness compliments the heat of the skewers really well and a few basil leaves add a nice, subtle, Mediterranean touch. Are you ready to risk it? Go on... you may as well be a devil... because if you DO end up choosing one of the spicy ones... it IS going to be hotter than hell!

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