This is the second installment in my online recipe for Carolina Style Eggs Benedict as served at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, NC.
The Roasted Red Peppers are one of my favorite components. Grilled under the broiler until the skin blackens and blisters, then paired with roasted onions, tossed with fresh herbs and dressed with balsamic vinegar and oil, they add depth of flavor and umami to the final dish. As a bonus, any extras are excellent as a side dish by themselves, or used in salads, sandwiches and other dishes. I call them “Provencal” because the first time I ever had them was in France at the home of a friend who was from the southern region of Province. It was a life changing moment (seriously!).
Don’t be tempted to use roasted red peppers from a jar. The process of preserving them adds vinegar and acid to the peppers which overwhelms the deep smokey flavor of the charring process. It’s like the difference between a homemade chocolate chip cookie and a “Chips Ahoy” store-bought cookie, not the same thing at all.
In figuring quantities, I use one-third to a half of a red pepper/person and 1/4 medium yellow onion/person
Preheat the oven grill to high
Slice the onion into thick slices about six slices/onion.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Rub the peppers and onions all over with olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Roast under the grill until onions have caramelized and peppers are charred–about 30-45 minutes. The onions may cook faster than the peppers so start checking them at about 15 minutes in and remove the onions once they are brown. Continue to cook and turn the peppers until they are charred on all sides. I find that the peppers char faster after they have been in the oven for a while, so I turn them the first time at about 15 minutes and subsequent times at ten minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven, place in a plastic bag and let them cool for five minutes or so.
Now peel off the charred skin, halve the peppers and remove the seeds and white membrane. Slice them into six to eight pieces per pepper. Place them in a bowl. (They may contain some wonderful juices inside them. It’s worth trying to rescue this and add it to the peppers in the bowl as well.) Slice the onions in half and add them to the peppers. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the peppers and onions and sprinkle with some fresh chopped thyme, oregano and salt and pepper. (The quantities are pretty much up to your taste but I usually do a three-to-one oil to vinegar mix and a teaspoon of each herb). Give them a good toss and place them in the fridge overnight.
And now you are ready for my next installment: Goat Cheese Grit Cakes to use as a base for Carolina Eggs Benedict!
ROASTED RED PEPPERS:
For 4 people
2 large red peppers
1 medium onion- peeled and thickly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme (chopped)
1 tsp fresh oregano (chopped)
1 clove finely chopped garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste.
Rub the red peppers and onions with olive oil and place under the broiler until the onions are caramelized and the red peppers are charred all over. Peel the red peppers, remove seeds, stem and membrane and pour any juices into a bowl. Slice the peppers and put them in the bowl along with the onions. Make a dressing using the remaining ingredients: put everything into a jar and give it a good shake until it is homogenized. Pour over the vegetables and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Best served at room temperature.