Cooking with Karel Anne: Peppers

Is it hot enough for you? That s what many say about the heat but its also hot in the kitchen. Today Chef Karel Anne is talking about peppers.

Welcome to the temperature heat index of chilies and peppers. It’s called the Scoville scale that measures the heat component of a chile pepper. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that stimulates the heat receptors in the tongue. The measurement is in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and the scale is named after its creator, American chemist Wilbur Scoville back in 1912. Today the test is performed using high tech liquid chromatography which measures capsaicinoid content. The results are then converted into SHU. They vary from Bell Peppers at the bottom of the scale at ZERO, to the low midrange of 2,500-8,000 for our common favorite the jalapeno, 30,000-50,000 for our spicy friend cayenne, 50,000-100,000 for the Thai chile, to the absolute heat range of 150,000-577,000 of the habanero.

The Naga Viper Pepper is a genetically engineered pepper by three of the hottest known peppers Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and Trinidad Scorpion. Naga Viper Pepper, on the Scoville scale, measures 1,359,000 units.

The weekend before Labor Day, you may start seeing “Hatch Chiles.” The city of Hatch is 40 miles north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Hatch is known as the designer chile headquarters as their farmers are constantly developing new breeds and flavors in the chile. These are introduced every year like new car models to very loyal fans. The heat in Hatch chilies is only given the general labels such as mild, medium, hot, and very hot. So eat to your “heat’s” content.

Today’s recipe is a simple cheese stuffed jalapeno on the grill. Slice down the center to remove the stem and seeds. Using a cheese stick, stuff the pepper, and close as much as possible. Using tongs, gently move the pepper to the grill, slit side up. Over hot coals, these should be ready in about ten minutes.

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