How to: Prepare Peppers for Stuffing

This method of preparing peppers for stuffing comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.  This is a stove top method that cooks the peppers until they reach a sweet spot, crunchy, but not raw.

This method is better than baking peppers in the oven for a few reasons.  First, it maintains, even enhances the color of the pepper, deepening its color and speckling it with some blackened spots.  Second, peppers are in season during the summer, and who wants an oven on for 45 minutes to an hour to bake peppers?  Third, it speeds up the stuffed pepper recipe.

A recipe for this preparation: No Bake Stuffed Bell Peppers

Caution: this method involves LOTS of spattering oil.  Be careful when moving the peppers in the hot oil.

ALWAYS PREPARE YOUR PEPPERS BEFORE STARTING ANYTHING!  The oil they cook in becomes this sweet pepper infused treasure of taste for the stuffing.

Here are some tools you need to start with: long tongs and a plate with paper towel to drain excess oil.

Once you start cooking the peppers you will not be able to do anything else, so prepare ahead of time.

Start with peppers of any kind.  I’ve got red bell peppers here, but feel free to substitute any sweet pepper.

Cut them in half, length-wise, leaving the stem on helps hold together the pepper when it’s brimming with stuffing.

Using a small knife, remove the seeds and white membranes.

Although your fingers work just as well.

Sometimes baby peppers start to grow inside another pepper, and these should be taken out as well.

Heat up about 1/4 cup of olive oil over high heat.  Wait for it to get very HOT.  This takes about 5 minutes.

Using tongs, place 2-3 pepper halves, CUT SIDE DOWN, in the oil.

It will go wild.  See all the bubbles?  Hot oil is meeting a watery vegetable (sweet peppers).  Stand back and be thankful that you have long tongs.

Sear the peppers for 3-4 minutes per side.  You will start to see the overall color deepen and become brighter, but around the edges you’ll notice a more cooked color that’s lighter than the rest of the pepper.  Using your long tongs, flip the peppers over in the oil.

Again, stand back as much as you can from the spattering.  (I look like I’m in an awkward yoga pose whenever I prepare these peppers.  My arm holding the tongs is stretched out, while the rest of my body leans as much as it can in the other direction in an attempt to avoid spattering oil.)

Sear the other side for 3-4 minutes also.  Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.  You want bits and pieces of the pepper blackened for a roasted flavor.

Repeat the process with as many peppers as you have.

Don’t forget: the oil you’re searing the peppers in will take on roasted pepper taste; use it in your stuffing.  Also, the cooling peppers will release juices; try to save as much of this juice as possible and use it in your stuffing.

Here’s the oil, color browned with flecks of sweet pepper juice.

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