Sweet, sweet peppers

My favorite produce store is Fruitical in Saint-Bruno. It’s about a 30 kilometre round-trip from chez nous, but since Fruitical is just around the corner from Martine’s sister and family, it is, fortunately, quite easy to justify the trip. (As if the freshness and variety of the produce were not enough!)

On Sunday, we found a new kind of red pepper there — at least new to me. They came four to a package for $4.99, which makes them a little bit expensive but not over the top. Each pepper is long and pointy like a cubanelle, but larger — averaging about seven inches each, and red.

so red!

They were labeled as "Sweet Selects," hydroponically grown in Quebec. There was a sticker on the package that indicated they are ideal for grilling, so I bought some.

The weather today was gorgeous, so naturally I planned a barbecue for dinner.

I grilled the peppers whole, while simultaneously preparing a barbecue sauce for the chicken. The sauce consisted of the following ingredients:

– a squirt of ketchup;
– a splork of tomato paste;
– a scrape of brown sugar;
– a couple of squashes of lime juice;
– a skloik or two of cayenne pepper sauce;
– two small chunks of chipotle pepper;
– a couple of smashed and mashed cloves of garlic;
– a couple of slugs of Jack Daniels bourbon sour mash whiskey.

… all bubbled together for about 15 minutes.

so tasty!The peppers grilled very nicely, as if they were made for that purpose. The skins blackened and loosened evenly, and they retained a lot of succulent moisture. When they were done I dropped them into a paper bag for ten minutes while I pounded the chicken breasts to flatten them out for even cooking.

When the peppers came out of the bag I was ready for the usual fight — some parts of the skin falls right off while other parts cling stubbornly. Not so with these peppers. The skins slid right off the wet and slippery flesh in one piece, like… well, use your imagination.

They had hardly any seeds or membrane, so it was just a quick swipe of the knife, a few longitudinal cuts, a squirt of balsamic vinegar glaze, a toss, and voila! A lovely pile of super-tasty grilled (roasted?) red peppers.

The rest of the meal involved grilling the flattened (and salted and peppered) chicken breasts and brushing them with the barbecue sauce just before they were finished, while some thick slices of zucchini grilled alongside. Pushed off to the back was a foil pouch of asparagus (with butter, pepper, and lime juice).

Everything came together perfectly. The chicken was moist and zingy, and the zucchini was soft yet toothsome. Even the asparagus was done just right.

But those peppers! They were so sweet! Almost too sweet — Martine said it was like eating candy.

Hopefully, they won’t be hard to find again. They prepare so easily and taste great so I’ll want to have them again. Next time I’ll use straight balsamic vinegar (and a drop of olive oil), because that will make a lovely contrast with the pepper’s natural sweetness. Needless to say, we ate all four of them.

14 thoughts on “Sweet, sweet peppers

  1. Hey bien, le monde est petit. Fruitical, c’est sur ma rue, c’est mon spot préféré pour aller acheter de quoi faire un bon repas.

    Mais dire que voilà… 10-15 ans, ce n’était vraiment pas ce qui se faisait de mieux en terme de marché. Ça l’a très bien évolué. Une chance ;-)

    Peut-être nous y croiserons-nous un jour alors ;-)

  2. Off topic but you know what’s sad? Even before reading the BBQ day part, I knew on which day you took that picture. Because it’s sunny, could only be yesterday :(

  3. As Miss Sushi says, Frutical’s come a long way over the years. It used to be just like those scary fly-by-night fruit stands in N.D.G.

  4. Howdy!

    Two technical points, for the barbecue sauce, what is the reason you use to justify the ketchup? If you want a sweet sauce I would think that a splork and a half of tomato paste, and a two scrapes of brown sugar would do the trick infinitely better.

    Then, Jack Daniels is not Bourbon. It is sour mash whiskey. Bourbon in order to be Bourbon needs to be made in Tennessee. Kentucky while being close is not the same state. It’d be sorta like giving Baby Duck an AOC of Champagne.

    And finally, if you like that sort of sauce, if you have a chance you should try Mesquite in NDG. Their ribs would be right up your alley.

  5. I always bought this variety of pepper in the Turkish stores when I was still living in Europe. They were about a third of the price of ‘normal’ bell peppers and had much more taste. I remember I also saw them in Sami’s on the Jean Talon market. Also a bit cheaper then $4.99 for 4.

  6. I only discovered Fruitical about 18 months ago, so I’m happy to only know it as it is now!

    Zeke, you got me again. As a certified member of the George Dickel Water Conservation Society (since 1985), I should have caught that — indeed JD is sour mash whiskey, not bourbon. However, I reject your comparison of Baby Duck and Champagne. Rather, it’s like comparing a quality French non-Champagne vin mousseaux with Champagne.

    As for the ketchup, it was simply because I was in a hurry. Last time I made this sauce (and next time) I’ll use tomato paste only. (I have not yet been to Mequite but I’ve been meaning to go…)

  7. Howdy!

    Obviously the Ketchup has been rotting your brain…

    As for Mesquite, are you and Martine free and available sometime in early June?

  8. I’ve seen similar peppers in one of the allées at Jean-Talon Market. Also hydroponic, but grown in Ontario. I don’t remember if the label (stuffed into a bag holding three peppers) said they were great for roasting, but that’s what I did and they were superb. IIRC they were $3 for three. Just a heads-up for those who don’t get to the South Shore or don’t frequent Sami’s.

  9. Mark, darling husband, if you are reading this, make this for me, make it for me now ;)

  10. Use your imagination, you say?

    Hmmmm. Somehow the image isn’t turning me on at all ;-)


  11. Blork…..

    “Condoms for Palm Pilots”. Quite the article! You would think you could just allude to the subject and next thing you know bunches of people would be just frothing in anticipation at the idea of weighing in on that topic…

    Fun with Peppers… Now that’s what it’s all about. Don’t wanna cause a frenzy, but they’ve got “almost real yellow peppers” on sale at Maxi in suburbs shopping malls near you for just $.49/lb right now. RUN..don’t wok, it’s BBQ nirvana.

  12. Those look like “Hungarian peppers” I’ve seen here. I’m gonna give ’em a try!

    Just a thought – I think tech writers make great cookbook writers because we know how to write procedures that are easy to follow and actually work. You should consider a new career in cookery, Ed. ;)

  13. Lisa, they probably are some kind of Hungarian thing. When you buy roasted peppers in a jar, it seems like they always come from Hungary or Bulgaria. I always wondered how those roasted pepper factories dealth with the problem of skinning the peppers, but if they’re using these peppers it’s no problem at all!

    As to cookbooks, you’re right that we tech writers are naturally suited to that kind of thing. Unfortunately, there’s no money in it. :-(

  14. I thought of this post Saturday when I tried to find cukes at the depanneur across the street from Else’s (of all places) when everywhere else in the ‘hood was sold out. The dep had some of these peppers for sale too – so it looks like there’s a new supplier or something who’s trying to introduce these babies into the market in a big way. Or something. This is especially important to us since our warm roasted pepper and portobello salad is a staple of summer around here.

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