Monday, July 26, 2010

Stuffed Peppers with Andouille Sausage and Rice

Sometimes I plan a dish around using up a given leftover, only to defeat the point by buying $25 worth of ingredients (okay, granted, $10 of that is probably for a bottle of wine—but how else are you supposed to make leftovers palatable?). However, tonight—said leftover being a pint of white rice from last night’s Chinese food—I opted for stuffed peppers, a dish that absorbs cheap ingredients and random scraps of leftovers like Lindsay Lohan’s liver absorbs toxins.

The ingredients in stuffed peppers can easily be switched up depending on what’s in the fridge, as well as multiplied to feed an army. They’re quick and easy, and pretty healthy (well, I’ll give you options besides the sausagey version), and they require just one bowl and one pan.

There are many ways to make stuffed peppers. Since my mom used to make them regularly when I was a kid (with ground lamb), my method is derived from hers. Considering the present heat wave, I opted to be cheesy and use the toaster oven—just make sure your peppers have sufficient clearance from its ceiling, lest fire and brimstone ensue.

I started with three yellow peppers, which I had selected for having a more rounded-tripod-shaped base than a pointy one, so they would both stuff and stand up better. I sliced off the tops (set these aside), punched out the stems, and reached in to pull out the seeds and white part (throw these away).

Take a sharp, pointy object and stabbed a couple of holes at the bottom center of the pepper. (So you don’t get a puddle of liquid on your plate as soon as you cut into it.) Rub the outside, including the little lids, with a splash of olive oil.

In a mixing bowl, combine the filling (which is about the most flexible recipe you can imagine; more ideas on what to include later):

  • Half a medium onion, diced

  • A few cloves of garlic, minced

  • Half a yellow pepper, diced (I thought it would be meta)

  • A quarter pound of feta cheese, crumbled

  • Sprinklings of salt, ground pepper, and paprika

  • The aforementioned pint of white rice

  • The filling of two Andouille sausages (slit the casing down the long side, then crumble in the filling)

  • After adding the sausage, knead the mixture all together, squeezing to break up any big chunks in the sausage, rice, and cheese.

    Stuff each pepper—you can really push this filling down to fit it all in—to the top, and place them standing up in about an inch of water in a shallow baking pan. I put it in the toaster oven (again, you’d want to use the oven for a larger batch) at 400° for about ten minutes until the top browned, then covered it with foil.

    After about 40-45 minutes (check at 20 and 30), throw your pepper lids atop the foil. Once they start to blacken in spots (check after 5 minutes), take out the peppers, and put on the lids before serving.

    I served this with a salad of arugula, cucumber, red onion, feta, homemade croutons, and—you guessed it—sliced yellow pepper. (The idea was to have the pepper prepared four ways: raw in the salad, baked in the filling, roasted in the lids, and steamed with the shells. I may have watched a little too much Iron Chef over the years.)

    Anyway, you can throw any veggies/leftovers you like into the filling mix. Here are some other ideas:

  • In place of andouille, use any other crumbly-inside sausage, or plain ground meat: chicken, turkey, beef, veal, pork, or lamb.

  • Or if you have some leftover meat in the fridge, chop it up and use that.

  • Or use beans in place of meat, rice, or both (you damn dirty hippie).

  • Add an 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, or a few good squirts of ketchup, to the raw filling mixture.

  • Add bread crumbs (the kind you crumble apart from stale bread, not the canned kind), instead of rice, to the raw filling mixture, for a meatloafy effect.

  • Other filling ideas? Other preferred and/or Mom-tested methods for making stuffed peppers? Please share in the comments.

    Oh, BTW: I also needed to use up five egg yolks tonight…yadda yadda yadda, recipe for chocolate ice cream coming soon.

    1 comment:

    1. My grandmother used to steam them on the stove top in a deep pot. Instead of putting water at the bottom, she made a sauce that started with browning flour and butter. Then she added ketchup and canned tomoato sauce and a TON of paprika. Delicious!