“What about a pepper could be that great?” I remember thinking, years ago, as I read Calvin Trillin’s piece on trying to get Padron peppers in the U.S. Well, Calvin, I’m sorry, I should never have doubted your impeccable taste espoused with such riotous wit. I have had Padrons a few different ways now, but this was the epitome of taste perfection. Nope, pure, Spanish, olive oil roasted with sea salt, you’ve been bested, but by an oh-so-worthy opponent: wrapping in delicious pork products.
Having found these fine specimens of capsicum, burn-inducing beauties at the Portland Farmer’s Market, I had no real plan for them. Stopping in to Laurelhurst Market for a little meat-buying, I had no plan for the pancetta I bought either. Then, like I was getting hit on the head with a hammer: Wrap peppers in pancetta. I had already eaten dinner that night, but I decided to test one. I took the thinly sliced pork product, its beautiful round spiral twirling easily around the pepper and placed it in the hot cast iron skillet. Seconds later as oil splattered willy-nilly, I nudged it, flipping it over. The browning made for crisp perfection, while the pepper retained but a shadow of its former crunch, leaving only its often formidable flavor, in the form of intense spice. Luckily the silky fat of the pancetta cooled my tongue. Ahh, Calvin, you may have lead me to the edge of the lake of snack perfection, but I have taught that snack to drink in that cool, porcine water.