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Side Dish

Pan-fried peppers with balsamic vinegar

Biba Caggiano
Biba Restaurant, Sacramento

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6 large, red bell peppers
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar


"Peperoni in Padella col Balsamico"

Wash and dry the peppers, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds and the white membrane. Cut the peppers into 1-inch strips.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot and begins to smoke, add the peppers and cook, stirring from time to time, until peppers are lightly charred and soft (6 to 8 minutes).

Discard some of the oil if needed and raise the heat to high. Season the peppers with salt and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring until vinegar is almost all reduced and the peppers have a rich brown color and are cooked all the way through (3 to 4 minutes). Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

For perfect pan-fried peppers:
"Make sure the oil in the pan is very hot. When you add the peppers, do not crowd the pan, or the peppers won–t char properly. If necessary cook them in two batches. When all the peppers have been cooked, return them to the pan, raise the heat to high and add the balsamic vinegar. When done, the peppers should look a bit charred and the pan juices should be quite thick. I love to serve this appetizing dish as an appetizer as well." - Biba

"A few years ago while I was having lunch in a small trattoria just outside Modena, the food of the couple sitting next to us arrived. A steam trolley pulled up to the table and the waiter began pulling up from the trolley–s steaming container an array of moist meats, which he sliced and placed on individual plates. Then he proceeded to place an assortment of accompaniments alongside the mixed boiled meats. The one that caught my eye was a medley of strips of dark red pepper, with blistered, shiny skin and with thick, clinging juices obtained by the reduction of balsamic vinegar. And naturally I had to order them. Today, several years later, this vegetable dish has a place of honor on the menu of my restaurant." -Biba Caggiano

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