Before we moved to California, our friend Hardy introduced us to a lot of things that were common in California but hard to find in Chicago, including Rancho Gordo beans and padrone peppers. If you can’t find these, look for shisito peppers.
We found a basket of padrones at the Napa Farmers Market and brought them home with us to Chicago. We made them, as Hardy instructed, in a cast-iron frying pan with a little olive oil, just until they started to get some black charred spots. We sprinkled them with sea salt and ate them whole. We shared them with our friends George and Stacey, and ate the whole pan. They’re so addictive, you’ll want more!
Just beware that you’re playing a pepper version of Russian Roulette. While the padrones are generally very mild, one out of every ten or so is extremely hot. This is apparently a well-known fact.
For some reason, Sarah always ends up with the hot ones! Last time we made them we decided it was more fair to cut each padrone in half so we both shared the risk.
If you can’t find padrones, try shishito peppers. We’ve seen them on Chicago menus in the summer. GT Fish & Oyster had a great cold salad last year made with shishitos and watermelon. How do you make padrones?