Experimental Stuffed Peppers

As promised, I was able to transform my Daring Baker fail into quite a respectable dinner. On a nicely solitary Saturday evening, I ate my pepper alongside the must make braised scallions from Molly Stevens via Food52 (read more on that here), and was quite proud of my restraint from ditching that loaf of failed sprouted wheat, millet and pumpkin quick bread, since it became one of the best stuffed pepper fillings I've ever had.

pepper filling

I browned a pound of Italian sausage from local mom-n-pop Cudahy sausage shop Adamcyk's, and when the sausage drained on towels I fried some leek and onion in the residual fat. When everything cooled, I mixed it carefully by hand using about half of the loaf of failed quick bread and aiming for a chunky, happy homogenization. Then, I hollowed out and filled a single red pepper and propped it up for steaming using a thrift store brioche mold. The single pepper fit nicely in my oatmeal pot, and the shear ease and lack of kitchen mess reminded me yet again why it is such a pleasure to cook only for one once in a while...

steaming pepper rig

Meanwhile, I made economical use of the oven heat by making gorgeous braised green onions along with a few perfect specimens of baby Shanghai greens I found at the Asian market last week. I had no tarragon growing yet in the yard, which actually is currently full of rapidly melting snow, so I braised my greens with a stalk of lemongrass. To the horror of some, a couple of dried bay leaves that I recently replenished from the Spice House also made a way into the braise. (As a side note, I read some geeky talk about bay leaves and trees last Fall, and never quite got over the idea that I wanted fresh bay. My new purchase of dried leaves smelled so good when I was perusing my spice cupboard for suitable accompaniments I couldn't help myself from throwing them in the pan. I'm not sure if I added or subtracted from the flavor, but I will say that braised green onions and baby Shanghais are probably one of my new favorite things.)

baby Shanghai greens.

braised scallions

I love steaming stuffed peppers rather than cooking them in a liquid or sauce so that they become all soft and flabby. Not only do they retain their shape, but the filling steams along with them, keeping it moist and not falling apart. About 30 minutes was all it took for it to cook through, and then I topped it with just a bit of shredded pecorino cheese. I had some strained yogurt in the fridge, and it was also a great idea to use some of that as a sour and tangy garnish.

My gustatory delight, shared via email with a friend (or maybe two), was so winning I surprised myself. The pumpkin in the bread really came through, and the traces of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg were heightened by the pork flavor. It would have been too lean without the sausage, and this is coming from someone who probably eats far less than that of my peers here in Wisconsin, where the regional sausage allotment has to be quite high compared to the national average. My stuffed experiments were a perfect balance of sweet and savory, and a great way to spend a Saturday evening alone. In fact, I'd make another loaf of failed sprouted wheat, millet and pumpkin bread in the future just to make these!

stuffed red pepper