Eight Peppers

Hot Stuff! Can’t Get Enough

One of my favorite movies is Major League, the goofy baseball movie about the Cleveland racist name/racist logo franchise. My favorite character is Pedro Cerrano, a power hitting Cuban player who worships a voodoo god named Jobu. At the end of the movie, Pedro famously says fornicate you to Jobu, after he thinks his bats are not being protected by the voodoo god anymore, and made into magic bats.

In his honor, and because I can’t stop buying plants, I added a Serrano pepper to my veg list, bringing my pepper total up to eight varieties, with about sixty plants. I also bought my wife a Jobu’s Rum T-shirt as an anniversary present. Jobu loved his rum. “Is not good to steal Jobu’s rum.”

Peppers, Dude

Serrano-Most are three times hotter than a jalapeno., though some can be even hotter than that

Tabasco-The dwarf yellow variety, which is a new one for me

Sweet Banana–We freeze these by the dozen, if they survive our devouring them fresh

Cayenne–No Southern kitchen is complete without a bottle of Cayenne pepper sauce

Poblano–The best mildly hot pepper. Dried when ripe, it makes Ancho powder

Royal Black–A new one, said to be really hot. It goes in the pepper sauce. Some of our seedlings have purple leaves

Early Jalapeno–Early is good

Jalapeno M–A mild Jalapeno. Why did I buy these? They must have been cheap

No regular bell peppers here, but who wants to be a regular pepper grower anyway. I probably will want to stock up on antacids.

Barbecue Without the Smoke

Does Slow Cooked mean Barbecue?

I really can’t get excited about smoking some pork for hours over hickory coals, when one the best pit barbecue joints around is a few miles away from me (the Top Hat in Blount Springs, AL), and they sell the stuff expertly cooked by the pound. This may be sacrilege, as I live in the state with the most barbecue joints per capita in the country, and we have manifold styles of barbecue, but I make mine without smoke.

How can that be done? I stole a method from the great chef Rick Bayless, who in turn stole it from some cooks in Mexico. I believe composer Igor Stravinsky said, “Good composers imitate; great composers steal.” Same thing with cooks.

The technique is essentially to boil dry a big piece of pork two or three times, and to let it fry in its own fat the same number of times. Fill up your pot with water up to the top of the piece of pork, and just let it bubble. It takes anywhere from two to four hours to do this, so this is really slow cooking. The result is some fabulously tender meat. Just don’t forget the salt. Maybe it should be called Neo-barbecue.