Flavor & Spice: Peppers on Game Day


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They come in mild varieties or they'll give you a good kick in the pants. We're running down some of the best of the best peppers for Game Day.

When it comes to cooking a delicious dish, it's not just plating and presentation, it's texture and flavor too. So many of our favorite game day dishes include peppers--both sweet and hot. We love them for their rainbow of colors, texture and, of course, sweetness and kick (in the pants sometimes).

We teamed up with the folks at Gifts.com to highlight one of our favorite ingredients. Peppers, which originate from Central and South America, can be used as garnishes, they can be stuffed, diced, minced, roasted, charred, and our favorite...all of the above and added to homemade salsa. Here's more about them and ideas for using them in your next game day meal.

 

Types of Peppers

The spiciness of peppers is rated on what is referred to as the Scoville Heat Scale, in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Heat ranges from 0 to 100 for sweet peppers and all the way up to 3.2M units for crazy, if not dangerous, hot peppers. (Ouch).

Mild peppers add flavor when you're looking for a hint of tanginess or sweetness. But if you're looking to take your dish up a notch or two, especially if none of your other ingredients are lending heat, then a hot pepper is the way to go. In either case, there are so many peppers from which to choose. 

 

Mild/Sweet Peppers

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PRO TIPS: You've probably seen these puppies in orange, yellow, green and red.
1. You can enjoy them raw and by themselves, you can grill 'em up, roast 'em, use 'em to scoop up dips, or sauté or stir fry 'em. Known for coming in bright shades of red, yellow and green, sweet peppers are a colorful and nutritious addition that fit perfectly into many eclectic dishes.

2. When it comes to Bell peppers, look for 3 bumps on the bottom when choosing peppers to cook and 4 bumps on the bottom to leave uncooked and use in salads, with dips, etc. 


Choose from some of these delicious and mild peppers:

Sweet California Wonder – One of the more common peppers, these kitchen staples are easily recognized by their green color, crunchy texture and earthy flavor. Make the most of these by stuffing them with meat or quinoa for a nutritious and tasty meal.

Cabernet Bell Pepper – Typically found in sauces, these bright red, sweet peppers are perfect for throwing into a salad straight from the chopping board or roasted to perfection.

Islander Bell Pepper – Less sweet than the other bell peppers, these purple peppers are best served raw, as cooking them will turn their royal color into a muddy shade.

Golden Bell Pepper – Sweet but mild, these peppers are best roasted as this form of cooking makes their flavor and orange color really stand out.

Carmen Pepper – Don’t let it’s long-horn shape and fiery color fool you! This hybrid pepper is noticeably sweeter than most and are delicious when roasted.

Sweet Chocolate Pepper – The super sweet flavor of this pepper makes up for its rich and unusual coloring. Make any salad unique with a few of these thrown in!

Banana Pepper – These mild peppers are named after their banana-like shape. They go through several changes in appearance when growing, like deepening in color and increasing in heat as they mature.

Roasting Pimentos – Exactly as their name states, these peppers are best enjoyed when roasted! This cooking process enhances their high-sugar level for a silky smooth taste.

Sweet Italian Pepper – Also known as “Tuscan Peppers”, these miniature peppers are typically used as salad toppings and accents. Sweet with a tiny touch of heat, this little pepper can typically be found pickled.

Cubanelle Pepper – The Cubanelle Pepper, also called “the Italian frying pepper,” shouldn’t be confused with it’s spicy, light green counterpart. Their thin walls and sweet flavor make them an excellent add on to many sandwiches and pizzas.

 

Hot/Spicy Peppers

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Looking for some kick? There are a variety of peppers that range from spicy to make-you-wanna-smack-your-mama. 

 

Poblano Pepper – Grown all over Mexico, this ancho chile is most known for its unique use in meals, like stuffed poblanos. When dried, it’s then called an “ancho chile.”

Jalapeño Pepper – Hailed as the most popular chili pepper in the world, this medium size chili is enjoyed with an array of diverse dishes. They are usually green when picked and consumed but will turn a bright red if they are allowed to fully ripen.

Kung Pao Pepper – Found primarily in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine, this long, skinny and thin-walled pepper is often compared to the cayenne chili pepper. It’s mildly hot flavor is great for adding an unexpected kick to a tame dish.

Serrano Pepper – Originally from Mexico, this bright green pepper is described as “crisp, bright and biting.” Daredevils will enjoy munching on this pepper raw.

Cayenne Chili Pepper – Also known as the “bird pepper”, this chili pepper is popular in its original form or as a powder. Cayenne pepper can be used for flavoring dishes and drinks.

Thai Pepper – While it’s small in size compared to others on this list, it packs a pretty big punch. Typically used in Thai and South Indian cuisines, the Thai Pepper can be used right off the vine or dried out to extend their shelf life.

 

The Top 3 Hottest Peppers

Komodo Dragon – Known for its delayed reaction, this chili pepper starts out with a hot, fruity flavor that eventually makes your mouth feel like it’s on fire. To get an idea, this pepper is roughly 400 times hotter than a jalapeño. Yikes!

Carolina Reaper – Officially crowned the world’s hottest chili pepper by Guinness Records, the Carolina Reaper is said to be a cross of intense heat and a fruity flavor. Classified to be six hundred times hotter than a jalapeño, this is one pepper you don’t want to mess with!

Dragons Breath – Tipping the Scoville scale at over 2 million units, this chili pepper is not safe to eat and was created for medical use as a alternative to traditional anesthetics.

 

The Recap:

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For more culinary help from our friends at Gifts.com, head here