Saturday, 14 July 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Here's the thing I like about an old favourite recipe - you can tweak it and modify it as the years go by, and it will still give you the same thrill it did the first time you made it. You just can't buy that kind of satisfaction when you buy a car. It just gets old and rusty and starts breaking down and ultimately fails you miserably until you replace it altogether. Material things don't stay committed to you the way a recipe does. They always need to be fully replaced. To be true, my favourite recipes have stood by me through thick and thin over the years. More than I can say about many of my relationships!
Take my stuffed peppers for instance. I think this was one of the first weekly standards that landed on my dinner table. Of course back then, Betty Crocker was next to Godliness. I had her recipe book and my mother had one before me. I don't think she ever published a recipe that had garlic in it, let alone chorizo. As a child I marvelled at the photos of jello mold salads with miniature marshmallows and pineapple chunks in them and chocolate cakes with smashed up candy canes sprinkled on the top. This was some high end gourmet at its best as far as I could tell. So as a very young newlywed, I made her stuffed pepper recipe and I was pretty sure food couldn't get any better than that! It was a green pepper stuffed with rice and hamburger meat and salt and pepper and you had the option to put some tomato paste in it too I seem to recall. After about ten years, I boldly threw in some canned corn just to show the world I was a pretty independent, freestyle and forward thinking cook!
My stuffed pepper recipe of today has nothing to do with the one I started out with. My love of Mexican flavours has altered my pepper recipe to a whole new level. I traded in my Buick sedan and now I'm riding in a sexy foreign convertible if you will!
You will need:
6 red peppers (or any pepper you like)
1 lb of chorizo. Get the mild one. If you use a hot one, omit the hot spices unless you're a masochist.
1 finely chopped onion
4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 stalk finely chopped celery
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 roughly chopped tomatoes (or a can of chopped tomatoes if you don't have a vegetable garden)
2 finely chopped canned chipotles
1 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup long grain rice (Don't use the instant rice as I've warned you before)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pepperjack cheese
1 can black beans
Cut the tops off your peppers and scoop out the seeds and put them in a big pot of boiling water for just 5 minutes and remove them and let them cool down.
In a big skillet, brown your chorizo sausage on medium heat and add your onion. Let it sweat for a few minutes and add your celery and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add your tomatoes and the chipotles and your spices. Stir it around for a few minutes and add the rice and water. When it comes up to a boil, reduce your heat to Med-Low, give it a stir and cover it for about 40 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked. Preheat your oven to 350. Drain the beans and add them to the skillet and also your cheeses. Leave enough cheese to the side to put on the tops of the peppers. Stir it all around until the cheese melts. Now add your cilantro and taste for salt and pepper in case you need a bit more.
Stuff each pepper right up to the top with this mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of each one. Place them uncovered in a casserole dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and whatever else you like. Salad is good and also fresh tortillas. Mostly you'll need beer though because it marries so well with this recipe. Enjoy this meal and be thankful to God that you're not starting out with Betty Crocker's peppers!

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