** Savoring the Southwest is a new cooking/food column from internationally acclaimed chef and bestselling cookbook author, Larry Edwards. In this Examiner exclusive series, the chef will take you through the wonders of Southwest cooking and food. Along with each of the dishes the chef will present, there will also be a how-to slideshow. Learn the art of Southwest cooking and enjoy every delicious bite! **
For many people, myself included, stuffed peppers are a comfort food. I can remember many days of my youth when my mother would venture to the local market, buy some green bell peppers and then bring them home and stuff them for that nights dinner. They were easy, they were quick, they were flavorful and they were pretty nutritious.
Here in the great American Southwest, we love our peppers. As opposed to Mexican cuisine, in the Southwest we tend to lean more towards the sweet variety of peppers and when we use the peppers commonly referred to as "bell peppers," we opt for the red, orange and yellow varieties. Not only are these colorful sweet bell peppers more flavorful, they also make for a much better presentation at the table.
When it comes to filling the peppers, it is important to remember a few simple facts. As the pepper cooks, so will the filling (albeit our filling is cooked before we stuff the peppers). Due to this, you will want to slightly over-fill the peppers. Once the pepper has been stuffed, mound a little more over the top of the pepper. You also want the stuffing ingredients to accentuate the flavor of the fresh peppers, not overtake the flavor. Here in the Southwest, our stuffing features the flavors of the region.
If you're going to top your stuffed peppers with cheese, do it at the last moment. Once the peppers have been cooked, add some grated cheese atop the peppers and place them back into the oven for a few minutes.
Ingredients needed to make Southwest Stuffed Sweet Peppers (serves 2):
- 2 sweet peppers, red, yellow or orange variety
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. celery salt
- 1/4 cup enchilada sauce
- 1 cup cooked rice
- Shredded cheese, either Cheddar, Colby Jack or Monterey Jack
- Slice off the top of the peppers. With a small paring knife, remove the membrane and seeds from the peppers and discard. Be careful not to cut through the peppers.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium saute pan or skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat.
- Once the meat has browned, into the pan stir the green onions, cilantro, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, celery salt and enchilada sauce. Let the mixture cook 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, stir together the cooked rice and the meat mixture (this is your filling).
- Stuff the peppers with the filling.
- Add a few inches of water to the pan you cooked the ground beef within.
- Place the stuffed sweet peppers into the pan and place a lid on the pan.
- Place into the oven and bake 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and remove the lid.
- Place some shredded cheese atop the peppers. Place back into the oven and bake a few minutes more, just until the cheese has melted.
- Remove from the oven, place the Southwest Stuffed Sweet Peppers on serving plates and enjoy!
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."