Monday, July 12, 2010

Susie's Hot! (Just Like Her Stuffed Banana Peppers)

Our friend Susie is one great cook. I have never known anything she’s made that hasn’t been swooped up and swooned over. Case in point: Hot Stuffed Banana Peppers. She brought a tray of these to the annual Fourth of July shindig at Bob & Liz’s – at Bob’s near-command --and they were hardly out on the table before the tray was bare. I had to scurry to get a picture, not to mention a taste myself!

Her “recipe” is fairly simple: it’s the preparation of the pepper shells and the stuffing of them that are time-consuming. To be honest, Suz said she wasn’t quite sure what kind of peppers they were. She’d bought a bushel late last summer and seeded them, then froze them so she could be ready for just such command performances as these: “ . . . . and bring those hot stuffed peppers!”

She stuffed the seeded banana peppers – there were about four dozen of them – with hot Italian sausage. Her favorite brand is Uncle Charley’s, a great meat processing company based in a small town outside Pittsburgh named Vandergrift, only about an hour from us. Uncle Charley’s has a great line of different sausage and meats and is very popular in western Pennsylvania. (Uncle Charley’s is proud to announce their meats are now available at Heinz Field!)

Since banana peppers are long and thin, this is a time-consuming task, as Susie reminded Bob: “I was up at 6 a.m. stuffing these babies!!” It was worth it. After she stuffed all those babies, she roasted them in a slow 325 degree oven for about an hour. She poured a little water on the bottom of the roasting pan to prevent sticking and covered the pan with foil.  After one hour, she drained the juices from the pan and topped the cooked peppers with a jar of spaghetti sauce. She makes her own sauce every September, but her supply is pretty wiped out by the following summer. After drizzling sauce evenly over the peppers, she topped them with a generous coating of shredded Parmesan cheese, popped them in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, to get the sauce warmed and the cheese melted. They’re best served right out of the oven . . . and it certainly wasn’t a problem that day!

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