Who hasn’t had a stuffed pepper of some sort before? The most common stuffed pepper: a green bell stuffed with some mix of rice and ground beef. I wanted to revisit stuffed peppers but see if I could give it a zestier twist.
First, I started with red peppers–I just love the taste of a sweet red bell compared to the other colors (I wouldn’t miss green bells if I could never find them again). I also wanted a more flavorful meat than just ground beef, so I opted for something much more full-flavored: andouille sausage. With this ground up, I also took a trick I’d learned from Peter over a Kalofagas: instead of plain old rice, I cooked up a hearty risotto. Bring these together with some creamy cheese and a number of other flavors, and you’ve got something great.
I thought this tasted amazing. Very strong, southern/Creole sorts of flavors–the pepper and the sausage gave a sweet, spicy, and smokey notes while the risotto and cheese was surprisingly rich and creamy and in complete contrast with the buttery, crunchy bread topping. The only thing I would change next time: I included mushrooms, but in the end, you’d never know. So I’d save money and not bother with the mushrooms (easy enough!) as the stronger flavors in this dish entirely mute the mushrooms. I’ve included them in the write up below just so the photos and all that makes sense.
- 5-7 red bell peppers
- 1 lb andouille sausage
- 8 oz porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 2 cups stock
- dash of white wine
- 2 jalapeño
- 2 shallot
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk celery
- 1/4 cup parsely
- ~14 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup cheese (i used fontina and manchego)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Bread crumb topping
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2.5 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup parmesan
Begin by reconstituting the mushrooms (if dried) in warm stock for about 30 minutes. This does two things: (1) reconstitutes the mushrooms (2) infuses the stock with a rich mushroomy flavor.
While you wait, behead the peppers, cutting off only as much as is necessary. Carefully remove the ribs and seeds and set these aside for later.
Now, grind the andouille sausage in your food processor and brown this in a pan with a dab of oil until cooked (somewhere around 10 minutes) and then remove from heat, drain, and set aside. While you wait on that, prep the remaining fresh items: dice the shallots, celery, jalapeño peppers, garlic, and parsely somewhat finely.
Sauté the diced shallot and celery in butter for about 6 minutes, add the jalapeño for 2 (and diced and lightly salted mushrooms, if using), and then the garlic for another 2.
While this is going on, prepare your bread crumb topping (in the exact same manner as you would for macaroni & cheese). I used some slightly stale baguette (I always seem to have some handy) and ground it up in the food processor to get my bread crumbs, but you can certainly use whatever bread crumbs you please–I just feel better about using this since I would have otherwise thrown it out 😉 . Anyways, in a saucepan, melt down the butter, and once totally melted, toss the bread crumbs and grated Parmigiano Reggiano in the melted butter for a minute or so over the heat and then set this aside for later.
And now, time to begin cooking the risotto. Warm the stock (but don’t get it boiling) and keep it warm in a saucepan. Meanwhile, in the pan with the sautéed veggies over medium heat, add the arborio rice to briefly toast it for about a minute or two.
Add in a splash of white wine and stir until the rice absorbs every last bit of it. Once it does, add in 1/4 cup of the warm stock and stir until the rice absorbs all of the liquid. Continue this process until you use up all of the stock, stirring fairly regularly. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
When you’ve run out of stock, add in the tomato sauce and stir until totally absorbed. Once you’re just about done (figure this takes about 15 minutes, and no, the risotto isn’t all tender and totally done, but that’s ok!), add in the parsley, sausage, mushrooms, spices, and shredded cheese. Give this a good stir and it ought to get really thick and gooey as the cheese quickly melts down.
Finally, disperse this mixture into your hollowed peppers, pressing the mixture in and filling all the way to the top. Top each pepper with the bread crumb mixture you prepared earlier and transfer this to the oven for 45 minutes.
Once done, remove from the oven and dig in already! Enjoy!