On Valentine’s Day, Dean took me out to a lovely dinner. I volunteered to return the favor and cook him a big Italian meal on Saturday night. My husband is 100% Italian (imagine!), and in his family, nothing says love quite like a pot of homemade sauce. So, I set out to spread the love.
Good thing I grocery shopped on Friday, because most of Saturday was spent in the kitchen. I made chicken parmesan, pasta, salad, and stuffed peppers. This was my second shot at making stuffed peppers, one of his family’s favorite dishes. You know it is a special occasion (or a good day) when his mom or Nana are frying them up on the stove. Last year for Dean’s birthday, I called his Nana, and she gave me the recipe. Here it is:
Go to an Italian market in your area (sometimes Publix has them) and buy a jar of green and red sweet peppers. They should be plum-sized and soaking in vinegar. There are about 12 good peppers per jar. De-seed and de-stem them (cut a circle around the top and pull out the stem.) Rinse them very well to remove all the vinegar.
Take a 5-6 slices of white bread, and crumble them on the largest holes of the grater. It will feel a little awkward at first to “grate” soft white bread, but it works. (Watch your fingers.)
You will have a nice pile of bread crumbs as your base for the stuffing.
Add salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic (I used garlic powder), parsley flakes, and “2 handfuls” of grated Romano Italian cheese (Nana uses Kraft). Beat one egg and mix in, sprinkle a little olive oil and a drop or two of milk to make it soft. Dean likes it with raisins and pine nuts, which add lots of flavor, so I mixed these in as well, but they are optional.
Then, mix it with your hands or a fork. You want it to have the same soft, wet consistency as hamburger meat. I like using my hands (I feel authentic:). My wedding rings sat this step out.
Stuff the peppers using a spoon.
In a frying pan, heat 1/2 cup of corn oil on low to medium heat. Add about 6 peppers at a time and fry them open-side down first. This seals in the stuffing.
Brown each side of the peppers slowly. You want each side to cook until it is wrinkly. This takes some time. I made 13 today, and I was at the frying pan for an hour, turning them from side to side. But it is so worth it!
Tip (or bad idea, I’m not sure which): I lean the peppers on their side against the ‘walls’ of the pan to get the sides to cook. Or against each other. The trick is getting a round object to stand on its side. Tricky!
When all sides are sufficiently wrinkled, you are done. Serve with Italian bread for a snack or along with your meal.
Mmmm! They look a little crazy (the raisins aren’t photogenic, you must excuse them), but boy are they delicious!! Manga, manga!!
Now, that’s Amore!