I am not a fan of hot peppers.
There. It’s out in the open. I can stop lowering my eyes and muttering excuses every time a coworker offers me the hot peppers at the bottom of the pizza box that held our “working lunch”.
A customer at Headhouse this past weekend bought several of our Hungarian Hot Wax and Poblano peppers. As is my habit when someone makes a determined b-line for our table and buys gobs of a particular vegetable, I asked her what she had in mind for all those peppers. Turns out she adores the heat in her dishes and makes a hot pepper saute to put on her sandwiches throughout the week.
Hearing her enthusiasm, I had a flashback to much younger days, growing up in a rural farming community in central Pennsylvania. Every 4th of July, my small town hosted the county’s biggest one-day festival that focused primarily on two things — a parade burgeoning with homemade floats built mostly out of crepe paper and tin foil and ridiculous amounts of homemade food. Now, I could break away from my main storyline here to tell you about all the floats I rode on that won the grand prize…I was Lady Liberty, Pocahontas, Dorothy… okay, let’s just stop there.
Instead, let me tell you about a particularly popular item in the many food stands at the celebration – fried pepper and sausage sandwiches. At age eight, I started out working the soda stand, where a bunch of us kids concocted the Graveyard – a giant cup of every kind of soda we were selling that would literally rot your teeth out on the spot and make you see Yoda floating before you. The soda stand was right next door to the sausage stand.
Now, I was never a fan of sausage, but the smell of those fried peppers (and onions) made me hungry even after I’d eaten two buckets of homemade french fries with extra vinegar and salt. I hadn’t the guts to eat those peppers though until a few years later when I “graduated” to helping in the sausage stand. Alas, the delights of my nose far surpassed the delights of my taste buds. I wasn’t a fan of eating those fried peppers. But they never stopped smelling good.
The delectable smell popped back into my brain after talking to my pepper buyer at Headhouse. As taste buds are wont to do, mine have changed over the years and so I thought I’d give fried peppers another go. It was a risk, especially considering I don’t like hot peppers in particular. But I thought if I knocked out all of the seeds and balanced the hot ones with one sweet pepper, I just might have a chance.
Dear readers, it’s good to take risks. Very good indeed!
Fried Hot Pepper Sandwich Topping
1 poblano pepper
1 hot wax pepper
1 sweet/regular pepper
1/2 of a large onion
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and remove seeds and stems from peppers (reserve a few seeds from the hot ones if you like extra heat). Slice the peppers and the onion into similarly thin strips.
Heat the oil in a small skillet until nice and hot. Add peppers and onion and stir regularly until they are soft and brown around the edges. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from stove.
Serve immediately on top of a burger or other sandwich. You can also make extras and store in an air-tight container in your fridge for up to a week, using it to garnish and enhance many quick dishes.
(makes enough to top 4 or 5 sandwiches)