Stuffed Choricero Pepper
It wasn’t that hard to figure out what we wanted to do with Dried Choricero Peppers once we had them in stock. They are stunning gem-colored beauties; a little thin-skinned, maybe, but sweet and delicious, and what would clearly be a glorious contrast to some sort of savory stuffing made of something-or-other.
At first we tried using ground chicken for its blank-slate flavor and almost universal appeal, and paired it with mild cheddar and creamy Havarti cheese. We had different opinions about the way this iteration of stuffed peppers turned out; some of us thought it was…okay. One of our taste testers took an active dislike to the chicken and he was right to do so. The recipe didn’t work. These peppers are too delicious to be paired with something that can’t hold its own against their pronounced flavor profile. The stuffing needs to hold its own to balance with the pepper. Back to the drawing board!
We turned our attention to ground pork; it’s got great, fatty richness and a deeper palate than chicken, one that notably plays well against fruity flavors. Then we thought about Manchego cheese, a sweet and nutty, semi-hard cheese from Spain, and gave it a fine grating to allow it to fully integrate with the bread and meat in the stuffing. When it came to seasonings, we looked for something robust that would make sense given the nature of the recipe. Our Mexican Chorizo Seasoning is made with chocolatey ancho peppers, earthy cumin, zesty coriander and peppery-bright oregano. It is full-bodied and fragrant, providing a lush counterpoint to the succulent fruit-like nature of the pepper. Finally, we topped the peppers with mild, milky queso fresco before putting the whole thing in the oven to finish.
Ten minutes later we had astonishingly good stuffed peppers, harmoniously sweet and savory. There was a fun snap from the skin of the pepper, that had dried just enough in the oven to add extra texture. We used a light hand when garnishing the finished peppers with whole thyme leaves; we wanted a gently herbaceous lift to elevate the dish and counter the layers of richness.
Our tasting team was so pleased with these peppers, they kept asking for the recipe before we were finished refining it. We cut the peppers into slices and ate them as appetizers, though they can be left whole and served with a light, refreshing tomato sauce as an entrée. You could try making this dish with grassy, gamy ground lamb, if you want to venture away from pork. If Manchego cheese and queso fresco are hard to come by near you, give your peppers and Italian twist by substituting Parmigiano Reggiano in the stuffing and mozzarella for the top. However you make it, we ask that you take a moment to appreciate the ruby-red gleam that Choricero Peppers bring to a table and the way they command dramatic attention just by being the gorgeous peppers they are.
- 8 Dried Choricero Peppers
- 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt for simmering liquid for peppers
- 2 ounces sourdough bread, torn or cut into small pieces
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 10 ounces ground pork
- 1 Tablespoon Mexican Chorizo Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Bourbon Barrel Smoked Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Hickory Flaked Salt
- 4 ounces finely grated Manchego cheese
- 1-2 Tablespoons simmering water from Choricero Peppers, reserved
- 6 ounces shredded queso fresco
1. Make a small vertical slit in each of the Choricero Peppers, cover with water and Fine Sea Salt, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Reserve up to 2 Tablespoons of simmering water. Drain peppers and set aside.
2. While the peppers are simmering, toast the bread in a frying pan, in 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium high heat until browned. Scrape into a waiting bowl and set aside.
3. In the same pan add the remaining olive oil. Crumble pork into the pan with the Mexican Chorizo Seasoning, Bourbon Barrel Pepper, and Hickory Smoked Salt. Cook until it is browned and fragrant.
4. Stir the bread and Manchego cheese into the pork mixture and add the reserved Choricero Pepper water to create a pliable stuffing that still holds together. Preheat oven to 400°F.
5. When the peppers have cooled, complete the vertical cut to the end of the pepper and carefully remove seeds with a small spoon.
6. Stuff each Choricero Pepper with roughly 2 ounces of the pork filling and top with the shredded queso fresco.
7. In a 400°F oven, cook the Stuffed Choricero Peppers for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.