Last Friday on the Ask The Chef segment of the radio show we talked to The Pepper Guys, as I call them. The Louisiana Pepper Exchange first came to my attention last winter, when I asked a good friend Bill DiPaola to guest host the show. He mentioned these pepper guys and I wanted them for us, but he found them, so I just had to listen to the show. Except that the show never happened. Bill, who is COO of the group that owns PJ’s, among other things, was called out of the country on business at the last minute, and was very apologetic when he cancelled. I told him not to worry, but I would have to take the Pepper Guys as compensation.
It has taken this long for them to actually appear on the show, what with my procrastination and, well, 2020. But it was worth the wait. We had a nice conversation about peppers, where these spicy fruits come from, how they use them (think breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert) and the process by which these peppers are incorporated into what you may eat.
Owner Chris White explained that they import only a pepper mash, which is simply pureed peppers and salt, making a naturally shelf stable product. There are no preservatives at all. We talked about the types of peppers they use, what is available and from where, and whether or not farmers in South America are also GMO-ing crops. Yes.
We talked about the basics like jalapenos, and cayenne, and their more famous Capsicum Cousins like the Ghost Pepper and Scotch Bonnets.
But I can’t stop thinking about one thing Chef Matt England mentioned, which is using their mash along with honey in basic bread. IN the bread. Hmmm. We can all add that one to our to-bake list in this strange new world, assuming we can get the yeast and flour.
The Louisiana Pepper Exchange has been quietly producing their products for years, but will soon come out with a line of mashes for us to use at home. I am intrigued by what Chef Matt said about using it in a seafood boil, and basic substitutions of the mash for a host of other spices. Visits are allowed at the facility on Tchoupitoulas, but a retail store is not there yet. We’ll just have to wait for it to hit stores, in about a month. Until then you can visit them online here.
They've also got a recipe booklet of ways to use their pepper mash in your home cooking. Here's an excerpt from their booklet for the seafood boil we discussed on the show.