I find it exceedingly interesting once of the very first recipes I posted on the blog (at the encouragement of Big Rob my fellow Metal Chef) was a stuffed pepper recipe almost two years ago to the day! It is amazing to me, first of all, I’ve been keeping this virtual recipe book for that long and in looking back at it, that I’ve come as far as I have with it, and this entire blog adventure in general.
This was another one of those “challenge” meals where someone gave me a couple of general parameters and said, GO! I am not well versed in Caribbean food so the “inspired” portion of the title is exceedingly important to remember when reviewing the recipe. The Caribbean has such a diverse range of influences from French to African to Iberian and each island draws upon them along with the semi-indigenous elements in different ways in creating its culture. Each one is unique and yet the common threads are so easy to identify.
There are two distinctly different things happening in this dish and yet they are drawn together by several common elements – in particular the orange and the cumin. Pay close attention to how both are incorporated into each dish and work toward bringing out the cumin in the rice and the orange in the “salsa” while letting the orange act as a subtle note in the rice and the cumin (along with the cinnamon-sugar) in the salsa. Also I strongly encourage you to NOT skip the salt step with the tomato as you will end up with a sloppy mess excessive liquid when you’re done rather than a stuffed tomato! Don’t be too intimidated by the prep, once it is done, the dish itself is more about waiting out the flavors than anything else. In using one bell pepper and one large tomato per person that gives you the basis, although you will need at least one extra bell and two extra tomatoes on top of the number for stuffing.
Green bell peppers
large stock pot
large mixing bowl
Fill the stock pot with water
Remove the top of each pepper to be stuffed
Remove the seeds and ribbing from the bell peppers and set aside temporarily
Place the body of the bell pepper in the stock pot
Bring up to a boil and blanch the pepper for a minute or two, do NOT cook it through
Remove the pepper body and allow to drain
Place the seeds and ribbing into the stock pot now
Remove the top of each of the tomatoes to be stuff
Remove and the seeds and snot from the tomatoes leaving only the flesh.
Place the insides of the tomato in the skillet.
Salt the inside of the tomatoes, turn them over and allow the excessive liquid to drain out of them.
Divide the onion, garlic and remaining bell pepper in half, place the innards of the bell pepper along with the first layer of the onion, etc in the stock pot
With half the onion, slice into large circles
Place the sliced onion, half the bell pepper and garlic along with the jalapenos and corn cobs on a baking sheet.
Roast the veggies on all sides in a broiler
Coarsely chop the roasted onion, bell pepper, garlic and half the jalapeno and add to the skillet
Remove the corn from the cob and place in the skillet
Place the de-corned cobs in the stock pot
With the other half the raw onion, bell pepper, garlic and roasted jalapeno, very finely chop them and add them to the mixing bowl.
Lightly zest the most of the oranges into the mixing bowl.
Zest the remaining orange and set aside
Peel the oranges and add the peels to the stock pot
Dice the orange’s flesh and add them to the mixing bowl.
De-seed the remaining tomatoes and place the innards in the skillet.
dice the flesh from the tomatoes and add them to the mixing bow.
Boil all the veggies and orange rind in the stock pot
Review or vessels
At this point you have several
one bell pepper, gutted and blanched per person
one tomato, gutted and salted per person
Orange flesh, chopped
Raw onion, finely chopped
Raw garlic, finely chopped
Raw bell pepper, finely chopped
Roasted jalapeno, finely chopped
Roasted onion, coarsely chopped
Roasted bell pepper, coarsely chopped
Roasted garlic, chopped
Roasted jalapeno, chopped
Leftovers from onion, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno
Rind of the orange
Add olive oil to the large mixing bowl.
Season with black pepper, cumin and add the dried cilantro
Chill in refrigerator while continuing to make the meal.
Add the brown rice to the skillet with the veggies and coat them all lightly in olive oil.
Over medium heat roast the rice until it begins to become translucent and the flavors of the veggies begin to meld as they sweat.
Add the liquid from the stock pot to the skillet according to the package for the rice (usually about 2:1 ratio liquid to rice).
Season with black pepper and cumin, add the dried cilantro
Bring up to a boil and back down to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook 2/3 of the way through according to the package instructions (between 20 and 40 minutes)
Reseason with cumin and black pepper as necessary.
Add the set aside orange zest and beans
Recover and allow the rice to finish cooking through the final third
Remove from heat and allow mixture to rest
Baking & Stuffing
Preheat oven to 350
Place the blanched bell peppers on the cookie sheet
Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, do not over fill them
Place the peppers in the oven and allow to bake for about 30 minutes
Coat the inside of the drained tomatoes with cinnamon sugar
After the peppers bake for 30 minutes, place the tomatoes on the cookie sheet and allow to bake with the peppers for an additional 5-10 minutes
Remove the peppers and tomatoes from the oven and allow to rest
Carefully stuff the tomato with the orange-tomato mixture from the mixing bowl, do not over-stuff
Sprinkle some additional cinnemon sugar over the top of of the mixture.
Place one pepper and one tomato on each plate
garnish the plate with the remaining orange-tomato mixture and sprigs of fresh cilantro