Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Photos courtesy of the Cooking Corner.

     A little while back on TV, I saw a bar in Buffalo make stuffed peppers that were so popular they became a staple that warranted national attention. So when one of my coworkers had a surplus of banana peppers I decided to give it a try. The ingredients are simple but there are a few steps to the process, coring and blanching the peppers, cooking the meat and mixing the filling. Stuffing them is a bit of a mess, but they cook quickly, store for days and reheat well. The flavor of the warm cheese melts in your mouth nicely.

 Stuffed Banana Peppers
2 dozen medium to large banana peppers
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup Colby Jack cheese
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

Brown sausage, stirring constantly and breaking pieces up to a fine texture. Add onion and garlic after 5 minutes. Cover with lid ajar and cook another 7-8 minutes until meat is done (no longer pink) and vegetables tender.

Fill stock pot or large kettle with water to cover peppers (about 6 inches). Bring to boil.

Slice tops of peppers off and run thin knife around inside edges, coring them out. Shake out seeds and rinse under running water. Set aside on foil lined baking sheet. Repeat for all peppers.

When water is boiling add cleaned peppers and cook for 7-8 minutes until softened. Remove to bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Rinse in cold water if needed so they are cool enough to handle. Let set while you make cheese stuffing.

Mix all cheeses and sausage in small bowl until well combined. Set aside. (Note - there will be leftover filling mixture. I used it in another recipe as a filing for biscuits baked in muffin tins. To only stuff peppers, cut filling ingredients in half or increase amount of peppers by at least a dozen.)

Drain water from peppers and arrange on baking sheet. Roll cheese mixture into small logs with a narrow tip. Stuff into peppers slowly pushing mixture to end as much as possible without tearing pepper. Repeat for all peppers. Dip open ends of peppers in crushed crackers crumbs to seal cheese mixture in and arrange on baking sheet.

Drizzle peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil in oven for about 4 minutes per side, flipping once. Watch carefully not to burn. A slight char is fine, burnt is not so good.

Remove from oven to cool and serve. Makes about 8 servings of 3 peppers each. (Peppers reheat in microwave easily.)

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