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Padron Chile Peppers
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Padron chile peppers individually are unique though similar in shape and size with curved and grooved furrows along their skin. Young Padrons are crisp, the color of limes, roughly two inches in length and their flavor savory, grassy, piquant and peppery. It is not uncommon to find a firey chile in the mix (roughly one in 10), making for a bit of Padron roulette. While there is no visual way to tell how hot a young Padron chile will be, as they age, they will deepen in color and eventually, as in many chile varieties, turn fire engine red and intensify dramatically in their heat level. Thus, it is safe to assume that mature Padron chiles will be hot. Typically, the Padron is a mild to hot chile, ranging from 500- 2,500 units in the Scoville index.
Padron chile peppers are available in the summer months.
Padron chile peppers, Pimientos de Padron, are a single heirloom non-hybrid variety of chile and members of the Capsicum family of Americas. The Capsicum family houses hot chiles, among them some of the hottest chiles in the world (Habanero, Ghost). The heat in Capsicum chiles is directly related to how much capsaicin a chile contains. The younger the Capsicum chile, generally the less capsaicin levels. Padron chiles are picked immaturely so as to avoid the higher levels of capsaicin, allowing for an entirely edible fruit.
Essentially Padron chiles are a finger food. They are most traditionally and appropriately pan-fried in hot olive oil until the skin blisters, finished with sea salt and lemon juice and served stem-on, though the stem is usually discarded. Padrons can be a lively addition to pizzas, salads, pasta, soups, fritattas and rice dishes such as paella. Padrons pair well with creamy sauces, citrus, manchego cheese, other chiles such as smoked chipotles, lobster, shrimp, chorizo, pork, poultry and tomatoes. Large harvests of Padron chiles can create the need to pickle or preserve. They can be cooked and preserved, densely packed in olive oil and sea salt or pickled, following basic pickling methods.
The Padron chile pepper is ubiquitous among tapas bars and restaurants throughout Spain. Since 1979, in the monestary town of Herbon, there is an annual gastronomic event, the Festa do Pemento de Padron, held throughout the entire month of August.
Though the Padron chile has become the agricultural pinnacle of success of Padron in Galicia, Spain, its historic origins can be traced back to 17th Century South America. The Padron was brought from the New World to Spain in the 18th Century, when Franciscans first attempted cultivating the seeds at their monestary in Herbon, near Padron. Centuries later, Padron's most famous food is its namesake chile. Seeds from original Padron chiles have been cultivated in rich soils throughout other Oceanic climates. Now, California has an abundance of small farms along the coast producing Padrons, making the chile more consumer friendly on the pocket book as well as giving more people access to the chile. The Padron, once obscure is now becoming commonplace at summer farmers markets and in the produce section of local grocery markets.
Recipes that include Padron Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
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