Well, summer may be drawing to a close, but my colored bell peppers are still ripening. As with the rest of the tomatoes and peppers, I’m continuously figuring out new ways to use up all of this produce instead of processing and freezing it all. But I’m doing that, too, because my garden was very, very prolific this year. I replaced all the soil in my raised beds with compost that had aged for two years, and the results have been overwhelming.
Just like New Mexican green and fresh red chiles, these bells can be roasted before freezing them. Roasting makes them sweeter and more flavorful for future use in salads, soups, or mixed vegetables. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and stems, and slice them lengthwise into long, thick strips. Them roast them on your charcoal or gas grill for about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Cool them and pack them in small zip bags. Yes, you can mix the colors for a nice visual effect.
Whole bell peppers may not be spicy, but there are ways to spice them up with a chile-laden stuffing. Here is a recipe for spicy stuffed bells from my new book with Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book. The recipe calls for venison, but you can substitute any meat except for fish in this easy-to-make entree.
Basque Peppers Stuffed with Venison
Photo by Norman Johnson; Food Styling by Denice Skrepcinski
When it comes to cooking game, it’s hard to beat the Basques. After all, Basque herders have been living off the land for hundreds of years. The knack of blending wild game with native herbs and spices is a heritage passed on from family to family.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 dried New Mexican red chile, crumbled with seeds
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 pound venison, fat removed, and ground
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento chile
1/2 cup beer
2 eggs, lightly whipped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
4 large whole green (or red) bell peppers
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup dry red wine
Heat a Dutch oven until a drop of water quickly sizzles away. Add the olive oil, red chile, onion, and mushrooms; sauté until the onions are limp. Add the venison and cook until the meat is browned.
In a bowl, blend the sage, rosemary, mint, pimento, beer, eggs, bread crumbs, and salt. Add the venison to the bowl and blend to make the filling.
Cut around the pepper stems and remove the seeds; save the stems. Spoon in the filling, taking care not to break the peppers; replace the stems. Reheat the Dutch oven, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Place the stuffed peppers, stems up, in the broth, cover the oven and steam for 30 minutes.
Remove the peppers to a warm plate, keep them upright and cover with foil to retain the heat.
To make the sauce, add the olive oil, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and wine to the Dutch oven. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Discard the stems from the peppers and serve them covered with the sauce.
Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Mild
For great spicy recipes, click the image above!