Fire-Roasted, Brick Oven Jalapenos
Jalapenos have earned their place as the world’s go-to pepper for a variety of reasons. They have a unique, invigorating flavor that packs just the right amount of hot punch, and they’re capable of serving possibilities that range from deep-fried to jellied. If you’re looking to spice up your book of outdoor oven recipes, then read on for a bit of background on this versatile pepper and a recipe to show you what else you can cook in a pizza oven!
The how of the hot
Like most “hot” peppers, the humble jalapeno derives its kick from a compound called capsaicin found in the membrane surrounding its seeds. PepperScale points out that most jalapenos eaten in the United States are actually picked prematurely when they are an iconic shade of green. Once a jalapeno fully matures, it turns a fiery red to match its increased intensity. The aforementioned capsaicin compound is actually a stress hormone produced in chilis; the burning sensation is thought to ward off consumption of the pepper and its seeds, but humans seem to derive an endorphin rush from the pain capsaicin caused by binding to the mucus on our tongues, according to Compound Chem. We’re thrill seekers like that!
A brief history of the American pepper
The jalapeno’s Mexican origin is usually classified as common knowledge. However, the spread of chili peppers and jalapenos among them was not by a relatively direct route north from Mexico, or what was previously Spanish-held colonies. Rather, the chili pepper took the long way around and made a layover in Africa before arriving in North America, as discussed by Legal Nomads.
In a very roundabout exchange of goods, European involvement in the trade of things like spices, sugar, and slaves meant that peppers used in cooking by the native people of South America made it onto boats bound for Africa, where they were introduced to cooking there. As transatlantic trade from Africa expanded to the new, Southern portions of the English colonies in America, the chili pepper came across the pond once more, where they were found to grow exceptionally well in the South. Within a few years, peppers became staples in the diets of the colonies, and we still enjoy them today.
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