Sunday, January 15, 2012

Food Fact: Red-Pepper Flakes

Red-Pepper Flakes are best known as a seasoning for pizza, these dried crushed chiles add heat to more than just a Sicilian slice.

A Hot Spice. It is made up of crumbled dried chiles and their seeds, red-pepper flakes can pack a lot of heat. The type of chile used (such as ancho or cayenne) can vary by brand, so test the level of spiciness before adding to a dish.

Flavor Enhancer. Chiles get their heat from capsaicin, a compound which also help accentuate other flavors in food. Red-pepper flakes add zest to egg dishes, soups, stews, and vegetable sautes. You can also use them in spice rubs or marinades. They are a popular spice in Italian cooking - you can cook them briefly in olive oil with minced garlic, then drizzle the spicy oil over polenta or use it as a base for pasta sauces.

Buying and Storing. This spice is often labeled "crushed red pepper." Look for bright red flakes that haven't begun to brown and seeds that are pale yellow. Store in a cool, dry place and buy often (every 6 months or so) as the spice tends to lose its pungency quickly.

Martha Stewart Everyday Living Magazine (date unknown)
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