Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Stuffed Peppers

When my brother and I were little, my grandmother, Nanny, used to make stuffed peppers every once in a while. It's likely she made them quite often, now that I think about it, but it was never enough for us. When we went to her house and saw the dish of peppers sitting on the counter, we were utterly thrilled! Now we only get them once a year, when my mother makes them for Christmas, so I decided to give them a try; happily, they were just as I remembered them.

Stuffed peppers

2 jars whole cherry peppers, either hot or sweet (B&G are best)
1 onion
1 stick butter
3/4 package of firm white bread
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Pinch dry oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

The peppers. I prefer the bite of the hot ones.
Saute the onion in one stick of butter until soft. Put aside. In a food processor, pulse the bread in batches and crumb until fine. Add salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, cheese, basil, apple and lastly the onion to the bread mixture. Dampen the mixture slightly with milk, one tablespoon at a time, and mix together using your hands. You will notice that as you get toward the bottom of the mixture it may be dry; continue to dampen with milk, as you want the mixture to be moist but not wet.

The bread mixture.

Core and stem the peppers and remove the seeds, leaving an opening large enough to stuff (be careful not to touch your eyes if you're using the hot peppers). Stuff each pepper with the bread mixture, packing tightly. In a large skillet, heat at least 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat and brown the peppers slowly, starting with the stuffing side down and moving to the bottom of the pepper. Fry the peppers until soft, turning the larger peppers on their side (for smaller peppers, frying the top and bottom will do). Drain on paper towel and eat at room temperature. 

Stuffed and ready to eat

These little beauties take a long time to make, to be honest, but they're so worth it. They've been a part of my Christmas tradition for a long time. I introduced them to my new in-laws this year and they were quite the hit, though they almost didn't make it to the Christmas table as Ryan attempted to devour them in one sitting. Buon appetito!

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