My garden is gifting me with lots and lots of banana peppers. I’ve pickled some, froze others and now I’m stuffing them as they come off of the vine. Of course, you can use any pepper you have on hand for the delightfully easy, and endlessly versatile, summer dish.
Stuffed Garden Peppers with Tequila & Roasted Garlic Cheese Sauce (gf)
6 fresh peppers; I used banana peppers but any large (stuffable) variety will work
4 hot Italian Sausages, smoked (or not, mine were smoked a day earlier and were in the refrigerator. Sweet sausages will also work
1 large white onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 c. grated fontina cheese (or any variety of white melting cheese, not low-fat, not American)
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts (heat a non-stick pan over med-low heat, add the pine nuts and stir frequently until they begin to brown. Just a few minutes should suffice.)
1/4 c. dried cherries (or white raisins or dried cranberries, whatever you like)
2 Tbsp. fruit jelly (I used cherry)
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 head of garlic, roasted (cut off the top, drizzle with olive oil. Place on a metal baking sheet that has been in the oven and pre-heated to 300 degrees. Bake for about 25 minutes, then check. When golden brown and soft, remove and let cool. Pull out the individual roasted cloves and set aside. All ovens are different, check the garlic every 10 minutes or so to test for doneness. It should be golden and soft, but not dried out.)
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. grated fontina or other white cheese (never low-fat, never American)
3 Tbsp. Tequila Blanco (white)
1/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
8″ baking dish, brushed with oil
If you have a Sauteuse pan, use it. You probably do even if the name isn’t familiar. It is a curved sauté pan, usually a bit deeper than the average sauté pan. We will use it three times, with no need to wash in between, minimizing clean-up. Whoot!
Fill your sauteuse pan 1/2 way with water and bring to a gentle boil. While the water is coming to temperature, cut the stem end off of the pepper and slice through the pepper only once, splitting it in half like a boat. Remove the seeds and veins of the peppers. When the water is softly boiling, place you peppers in the water and softly boil for 4-5 minutes to soften the pepper. Remove and set in a colander, split side down, to drain. Working with 2-3 peppers at a time is optimal. Adding all at once may cool the water too much, giving you a mushy pepper instead of a nicely softened one. Set the peppers aside to cool.
When the water is still hot, add your dried cherries and let them soften and plump for a minute in the hot water. Remove, drain and allow to cool. When cool enough to work with, chop into small pieces.
In a medium hot sauté pan, add the oil and let it get hot for a minute or so. Add the onions and peppers and sauté until just soft but not brown. Chop the sausage into tiny pieces and add to the pan, cooking until the meat is fully browned. Add the jelly and mustard, stirring until incorporated. Turn off the heat and stir in the pine nuts and cheese. Set aside.
Brush a glass baking dish with oil. Just enough so that the peppers don’t stick to the glass.
Place a pepper in the pan and fill it with you sausage mix. Continue doing this until you’ve filled all of the peppers with all of your mix.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the peppers begin to brown and the cheese has melted.
Heat the same sauteuse pan to medium, add the butter, melt and when it begins to bubble, add the chopped garlic, stirring constantly for 30 seconds or so until softened. Do not brown or burn the garlic. If you do, start over and lower the heat. Add the Tequila and bring to a soft boil.
Add the milk, returning to a soft boil. When you reach your soft boil, add the cream and return to soft boil. Add the cheese, stirring until melted and you have a nice cheese sauce. Add the softened roasted garlic, stirring. Continue cooking softly until you have a thickened consistency, and the roasted garlic imparts its flavor into the sauce. When it is ready, remove from heat.
Place a pool of sauce on your plate, and top with a roasted pepper. Drizzle a little more sauce over the top if you like.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with a nice baked potato and fresh steamed corn on the cob.