Sunday, September 4, 2011
Baked Pimento Pepper Halves
Stuffed with Minced Chicken Breast
While rummaging in my freezer I came across vacuum packed chicken breast. Just one chicken breast is not enough to feed 2 people unless I use it in stir fry or with risotto or lots of pasta. None of these options appealed to me, I just had to come up with something that I haven’t done before. Last week I made soup dumplings using minced chicken breast, egg and polenta (!) instead of bread crumbs so I figured I could follow same process. Then I remembered one of our favorite dim-sums: fried and steamed green pepper halves stuffed with ground pork! I have a lot of red pimento peppers in my veggie garden (that I grew from seeds J) so I have decided to use them. They are just perfect size for quick bake, about 2” wide and 4” long. Problem: chicken breast is the leanest meat on the planet and because of that I will have to add some good fat. I figured since everybody (among normal people) loves bacon, why not take couple slices of bacon, chop it and then pulverize it in mini-chopper to add some taste and moisture. New recipe was done, at least in my head.
1 chicken breast (1 halve), cut into 1” cubes
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
2 slices smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
1 Tbs. chopped garlic chives or French chives
6 small red peppers
Oil for initial frying
Wash and dry peppers and cut off excess stem.
Split in half lengthwise, remove seeds, white ribs and cut across the stem and as close as possible to pepper wall. You should have only small green knob left.
Place garlic and bacon in a mini-chopper or food processor and process until bacon has a paste consistency.
Scrape the sides of processor bowl and add chicken and pulse until chicken is well minced.
Place bread crumbs, paprika, salt, thyme, marjoram and chives into mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
Mix beaten egg with milk and pour in bread crumb mixture and mix. The crumbs should form small pellets.
Mix the chicken mince with bread crumbs and mix until mixture is well combined and smooth. You should be able to form a ball that holds its shape. Adjust the consistency if needed by adding more milk if dry or more bread crumbs if too runny.
Take a teaspoon of the mixture, make a small pate and fry in little oil to test for seasoning, mainly if it is salty enough since bacon differs a lot in how salty the slices are. Adjust if needed.
With spoon, stuff the peppers with mixture, pressing the meat in all corners and stuffing it a little bit higher than the rim of the pepper. It should have a little mound above the rim.
Preheat oven to 400 °F and place rack in middle.
Heat about 1/2 cup of oil in small frying pan and shallow fry meat side of pepper till golden, about 20 – 30 seconds. Fry only 2 halves at the time, they are very slippery and hard to handle. When seared remove peppers with tongues to plate lined with paper towel. Repeat for rest of peppers.
Place peppers meat side up on a wire or roasting rack and place the rack on baking sheet. (I used my BBQ grill so I’ve omitted the baking sheet and roasted them on warming rack that is higher than cooking grill.)
Bake for 20 minutes.
Only you imagination will direct you in how many ways you can serve these stuffed peppers. Simplest one, and the one I used when I served them freshly baked, is just as it is: on a bed of lettuce or arugula with a baguette toast rubbed with garlic and fresh tomatoes. Other suggestion are that you can cut the peppers across into 1 inch slices and put them on top of toasted baguette slices…or serve them in a hot tomato sauce with, you guessed it, garlic rubbed and toasted baguette slices. This was today’s reincarnation of this great meal. Hmmm, it looks like we do like toasted baguette slices rubbed with my very own hard neck garlic. I have to agree, we do. It makes a great base for almost any toppings.
Peppers are ready for initial browning.
Caramelized and ready for baking.
Burners on right and left were on full and two center ones were on low.
Ready for any way you want to serve them.