Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Hipster Chef Says: "I Liked Roasted Red Peppers Before They Were Coulis" (a recipe)

Today's Specials:  Excitement Slathered in a Sauce You're About to Learn to Make with a side of "Oh My God, This is SO Good"

Set to the tune of Red Hot Chili Peppers' Sikamikanico

Ok, gang, it's time to get down to business. Welcome to the first Braised In Captivity recipe entry. It's finally here!!

Today were gonna be making Roasted Red Pepper Coulis. It's a delicious, versatile recipe that will both surprise and keep those you cook for coming back for more.

You need:
6 Red Bell Peppers
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Chicken Base*

Spices/Herbs to Flavor (more on this later)
Salt to Taste

A Blender

*What the hell is that?  It's basically just bouillon in a paste form.  At home I use "Better Than Bouillon" brand (the organic line is great), but Stouffer's and Knorr both have similar products.  


Step 1: First thing we need to do is roast those peppers.  So, the ridiculously complicated measures you're going to have to take is; remove any little stickers and place the peppers on the actual grates of your range.  That's it.  Turn on your flame and you're on your way!

What's that?  You don't have a gas range?  No problem.  Just throw those bad boys on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil them in the oven, turning with tongs so the skins blister.  They'll leak all the foil is pretty much there for easy cleanup.
Now what we want is a nice layer of charred pepper skin (there's a good band name in there somewhere).  The point of all this is to remove the skins and impart a nice 'roasted' flavor to the pepper flesh.

So as each side blackens, you're going to turn the (yes...with tongs).  Until eventually we get...

roasted red peppers

Now I know some of you are thinking "what if I leave them on for too long!?!?  Help me mighty Chef Rob!!!"  


You weren't?  Fuck you!  

But it's pretty hard to leave them on for too long (I hesitate to use the word 'burn' them...since that's kinda the point of all this).  Not impossible, but....difficult. 

So now you need to put them in a container and cover them.  The covering will help the peppers steam and let that charred skin loosen.  Five to ten minutes is all you need.  It's not essential that you do this, but it sure makes it a lot easier.  Which brings us to...

Step 2:  Now that we've got our peppers nice and roasted, steamed, and slightly cooled (but not too cool - cool enough to handle) we want to take a nice sharp knife and cut out the stem, and slice the pepper down the side.  Open it up.  Remove the seeds and ribbing so that:




See that little knob of seeds and white shit near the top of the pic?  That's all the waste you should have.  Now flip it over.

Now you're ready for...

Step 3:  Scrape the charred skin off of the pepper.

I like to use the back of my chef's knife for this...but you can use whatever you find to be easiest.  Sometimes the skin will stick in a couple places.  That's ok.  Just cut it away or leave it.  Your choice.  We're pureeing this so, in the end, it won't be noticeable.  

Here's what you should be left with after all is said and done:

I like to leave a little of those tiny flecks of char on the pepper.  It's easy enough to remove them through aggressive scraping or rinsing under the faucet, but I don't for a couple of reasons.  1, We're after the oils and fluids which have taken on some of that roasted flavor.  Washing them away seems like a sacrilege.  2, It let's your diners know that, yes....I DID do this myself.  It adds a little touch of humanity.  

At this point I'm reticent to mention that roasted red peppers are available in a jar....packed in oil.  But I strongly suggest making your own (and yes, you can make a big batch, store them in a jar packed in oil. They'll last a while in the fridge).  It just tastes better.  It's also possible to do this with just about any variety of pepper ('duh' note:  if you're using one of the smaller varieties, you'll have to put a grate over your burners). now we decide what genre of cuisine this will be.  Yes...once you've roasted your own peppers,  you've earned the right to use the word 'cuisine'.  Today, I'm going Indian.  So that means:
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tbl Coriander 
2 Tbl Curry
2 Tsp Ginger Powder
1/2 Tbl Garlic
1 Tsp Onion powders
The Chicken Base and maybe some Mace if you've got it.

**Yeah, yeah, yeah....I can hear all you judgmental sous-chefs out there saying "Rob!!  Why don't you use real garlic and real ginger?" Well the reason can. And, frankly, it'll taste better if you do. BUT, I'm making this as versatile as possible, and if you add real garlic and ginger, you're gonna need to cook it a little to remove the raw taste from those ingredients.  You can use it right away if you use powdered.**

And here's what's great about this recipe....versatility.  You want Indian, stay with me.  You want Hispanic?  Cumin, Coriander, Chili, Garlic, Mexican Oregano, Paprika...maybe a dash of cinnamon ( me).  Want French?  Onion Powder, Garlic, Dill, Marjoram.  Italian?  Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and maybe a little fennel and red pepper flake to add a hint of heat.  Irish?  Yer shit outta luck, they don't know how to cook with red peppers.

Getting back to the recipe (stop interrupting):  Put the peppers, whatever flavoring spices you're going with, and the Chicken Base in a blender.  Blend.  If it's too dry, add some cream to lubricate (don't you love that word) the process.  The goal is to get a nice, smooth texture.  Don't add too much cream as the blender may turn it into butter or cause it to curdle.  For the record, this won't affect the flavor too much, but it doesn't look pretty.   Add just enough to get the process started.  A little water will do it if you're afraid of cream.  But I figure if you add liquid, it should be flavored with something.

If you're going to cook some meat or veggies in the sauce, do it now.  Otherwise, proceed to...

Step 4:  Hit it with some Sour Cream.  Mix with a spoon or a couple of spins in the blender.  The reason you don't want to add the sour cream before if you're cooking it some more, is because the heat will cause it to curdle and (again) it's fine just looks a little too much like cottage cheese.  

There ya have it.  You should end up with a smooth unctuous (another great word....Braised In Captivity is all about vocab) sauce that tastes....well.....amazing.  It should look like this:

It's great as a dip or sauce, and if you're looking for a Halloween costume, you could do a lot worse.  

Stay tuned for the next installment, Braisers.  Ima show you how to cure your own bacon (you heard me).  


  1. Swoon... I love roasted peppers and I haven't made coulis for a while. I guess I'll have to incorporate it into one of my meals this week.

    I'm sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for your bacon post. -from the mouth of the vegetarian.

    1. It's curing as we speak. I documented the process photographically the whole way, so it will be coming soon!

  2. I'll never forget the first time I made my own roasted peppers. I just kept thinking "why did I ever buy them in a jar??"
    Great blog, love the layout, pics, everything! Oh, Tina sent me :)

  3. Awesome Rob!! I can't wait to try this!