Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
If you’ve noticed, the food media often release reviews and features of new restaurants virtually at the same time. The domino effect begins in one of the obvious sources and then all the rest jump in to give their review and opinion. By that time, a particular restaurant will go from buzz worthy to trendy in the span of a few weeks. Yuck.
This is currently the trajectory Tia Pol is experiencing. Thankfully, its sleepy location at 22nd and 10th has helped reduce the mobs that would be most likely be flocking by now. Gothamist ranks tapas as one our favorite types of food and having been to all of the hyped and off-the-beaten-path tapas joints in the area, our food at Tia Pol is worth the buzz. In fact, we had our best tapas in a long time.
Gothamist is always looking for a quick and easy snack to serve to guests and friends that are either coming over for a few drinks or for a home cooked meal. We frequently stick to a familiar cheese or antipasti plate, but Tia Pol inspired us with a dish called pimientos estilo gernika. It consists of little green peppers that are blistered and charred, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and piled in a mound on a small plate. Served with the stems still on, they are perfect for a finger food snack at home. The peppers are salty and crunchy, sweet and a touch spicy and go perfectly with a cold beer.
Blistered Green Pepper Bar Snacks
serrano peppers, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil
The key here is finding peppers that are mild enough to eat in quantity, spicy enough to be interesting, yet are small enough to eat as a finger food. Serrano peppers are the best choice and are relatively common, but they very spicy.
We cannot figure out which peppers are served at Tia Pol, as they are not spicy at all and had very little inner membrane or seeds (tell us if you know!). As such, use the Serrano but clean them via the method below to take the heat to a manageable level (we tried them uncleaned and were found chugging milk a minute later). You can find Serranos at Fairway or Fresh Direct.
You can get sea salt at any gourmet food store.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves about 4-5 people as a snack with some other choices.
Count on one person eating at least 5 (though Gothamist ate almost 10). Scale up or down as necessary.
1 lb fresh Serrano peppers (about 25 in 1 lb)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Estimated cost of ingredients: $12 at Fairway, assuming you have olive oil and need to buy seal salt.
Gas Stove ideal, broiler is second choice
Prep the Peppers
First, rinse the peppers and thoroughly dry them. They must be bone dry in order to blister them correctly.
With a sharp pairing knife, make a slice halfway through the pepper lengthwise.
Open the pepper with yout hand and slice around the white membrane on each side of the pepper, lifting up and removing with your knife tip or hand. Go back and remove remaining seeds or white membrane in the pepper.
Do this for all peppers and line them out on a foil lined baking pan on your counter, near your stove.
Prep the Peppers
If you have a gas stove, you should blister them directly on the fire. This is a common technique for quick roasting and charring peppers in professional kitchens. Turn your flame to high. Pick up a pepper with your tong and hold directly to fire. After 5 seconds you see a nice char, flip it over and do the other side and place back onto your foil lined pan.
Do this for all of the peppers you want to serve. You can do them an hour or two before serving. (If you do not have a gas flame, you can broil the peppers. Place directly under broiler in small batches, flipping peppers after 2 minutes on each side).
Season and Warm the Peppers
Gothamist has found that the peppers are best served warm and salted while they are warm. Drizzle a liberal amount of olive oil onto the peppers in your pan and mix with your hands to coat. Insert into a preheated 300 degree oven for 5 minutes or until soft and warm.
Take out and liberally salt the peppers with sea salt. Take care to make sure there is a nice amount of sea salt on each pepper, as this is a key component of the dish. Taste to make sure you have enough salt on them – salty is good for this bar snack.
(If using the broiler, take them right out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and salt them immediately. Serve right away while still warm.)