Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grilled stuffed peppers



A couple of weeks ago, my mom told me she was going on vacation and I kindly volunteered to house sit for her in Houston. My initial plan was to take advantage of her spacious air-conditioned kitchen that not only has counters but also a dishwasher and an in-sink disposal. (These are all luxuries not found in my NYC apartment.) Not to mention she’s within driving distance of my two favorite grocery stores: Central Market and Fiesta. Cooking at my mom’s place in Houston was going to be a dream vacation!

Everything was perfect until I tried to start cooking. I’m so used to my tiny kitchen— which is small but has everything I need within reach—that I just couldn’t function properly in my mom’s palatial space. So I decided to not cook at all for a week and instead eat as many different things as I could while I was in Houston.

I admit, eating my way through Texas is not bad work—even when you’re consuming up to eight meals a day. Of course, this was research for my book so I can’t tell you everything that I ate as I want there to be some surprises when the book comes out next fall. But do know that there was a lot of this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



Towards the end of my stay, I had grown tired of restaurants and was itching to cook again or at least eat a home-cooked meal. So it was a joy when I received a message from Robb Walsh inviting me to his house for lunch and some World Cup watching.

If you ever receive an invitation for a meal from a cookbook writer you’d be a fool not to accept, especially if you like to eat. Why? Because their job is cooking and testing recipes and you’re guaranteed a bounty of food. Take my visit to Robb’s. When I arrived, on his counter was a tall stack of various wrapped meats from the store; I assumed it was his family’s groceries for the week that just hadn’t been put away. Yet as Robb and I talked about the state of Tex-Mex cuisine among other culinary topics, I watched him work his way through that stack of meat, coming up with all sorts of concoctions that would later go on the grill.

Speaking of the grill, you know that he has a new cookbook, right? It’s called The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook. Like all of his books, it’s a collection of Texas food history, anecdotes and recipes—so you can learn a little something while you cook. This time he focuses on outdoor cooking and since I don’t have a grill, I didn’t think that I’d be able to cook from his book. But his stuffed pepper recipe, along with many others, could easily be adapted for the oven.



He made these stuffed green peppers for me, serving them as a side dish to numerous other slabs of meat, though they’re certainly hearty enough to be a main dish as well. And if you took the filling and stuffed it into smaller jalapeƱo chiles, I bet they would make a fine starter.

Grilled stuffed peppers (from Robb Walsh)
2 tablespoons seasoning blend of your choice
1 teaspoon salt (omit if there is salt in the seasoning mix)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 pound breakfast sausage meat
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Cayenne pepper
Ground cumin
Oil, for frying
3 small green bell peppers (four lobes preferred)

Yield: 6 small pepper halves

Mix the seasoning blend, salt, and wine in a small bowl and stir well. Then combine the mixture with all the other ingredients except the oil and peppers in a mixing bowl and mash with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Put the meat in the refrigerator for an hour or more to allow the flavors to blend.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and place a teaspoon of the meat mixture in the hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until done on both sides. Taste, and adjust the salt and seasonings in the remaining meat mixture.

Cut the peppers in half through the stem so that they form six half-pepper cups. Fill each half pepper with meat mixture. Mound the meat no more than a 1⁄2 inch over the top edge of each pepper. The stuffed peppers can be made in advance to this point and stored covered in the refrigerator for several days.

To cook on the grill, first light the grill. Cook pepper side down over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pepper is charred and soft. Turn the stuffed peppers over and cook on the meat side for 10 minutes. Test for doneness.

To cook in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the peppers pepper side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. Cook peppers uncovered for 45 minutes. Test for doneness.

Serve immediately with your choice of salsas.

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47 comments:

Bbq Dude said...

Is Central Market still laid out like an Ikea, so that you have to wander through the whole store? I shopped there once when I lived in Houston, and never went back. Fiesta, on the other hand... That's a store that I miss terribly.

Tessa said...

By chance is that a sausage sandwich from Goode Co? I'm a native Houstonian now living in DC and for my 10 year high school reunion in Sept, I fully intend to eat my way through Houston over the four days I'm in town. And I will be bringing back as many goodies as possible. . . Mmmmm. . .

DessertForTwo said...

I love the first photo--the honey sign and the flag. Too perfect!

Oh how I miss Central Market...the love dip and salsa bar especially.

You're a lucky duck, getting to hang out with Robb Walsh! :)

AbbieBabble said...

I am always delighted to not really eat meat until I get to your blog. Now I am dying to eat pounds and pounds of it- those peppers look amazing!

Cheryl said...

These peppers look amazing! I will be trying them very soon!

Where did you get that catfish sandwich? It looks so yummy! I live about an hour from Houston and I would totally drive that distance to get a good catfish sandwich!

Celeste said...

Now I want to go to Houston! Last time I was there was 3 years ago. Three LONG years. ;o)))

If I made this dish, I think I'd use red ripe peppers rather than green, or maybe a mix of red, yellow, and orange peppers for color if it was a party.

Bee said...

I bet those stuffed peppers are great, but what I really want are all of the foods found in your pictures. Since it is a hot afternoon, I think I will start with a bowl of Blue Bell peaches and cream . . . or maybe a margarita with some chips and salsa?

Melissa said...

I actually helped open that Central Market-worked in the bakery, loved the smell of bread and cheeses wafting over from the cheese case. I LOVE CM and missed it terribly when I moved. Now I'm back in TX and living in Austin...and am gastronomically happy!

Kira said...

That sounds like my ideal week, especially the part with Robb Walsh (though maybe not the World Cup). Love it!

Kalyn said...

Sounds like you had fun! I love the idea of stuffed peppers on the grill.

Monday Through Friday: Food & Photography said...

The bun & sausage...looks really right up my alley, especially if it smoked! Looks like you had a great trip, I'm going to try that recipe out, looks alot better than my stuffed peppers ;)

Class factotum said...

The Rajun Cajun. Marini's Empanadas. Kolaches. Black Eyed Pea. Yes, I know it's a chain, but it's still good. And it wasn't a chain when I first started eating there. Neither was Chile's.

I plan to eat at all these places when I go to Houston in October for my college reunion.

Heather @ chiknpastry said...

man that looks like some good eatin'! and even if you didn't test recipes for the book, you got to sample and resample lots of good texas food, which is still partially work related!

those peppers look great - but i generally like anything stuffed and spicy :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

BBQ Dude--Ha! Never thought of it that way, but yes--Central Market still has an IKEA-esque layout. I reckon you either like it or don't.

Tessa--Nope, it's from a roadside stand somewhere in Montgomery County.

DessertForTwo--The catfish sandwich is from a place outside Conroe called Kuntry Katfish.

Celeste--Now that's too long! And the mix of peppers will be pretty!

Bee--Always start with a margarita and chips and salsa!

Melissa--I miss it terribly, too. Always a first stop whenever I'm in a town that has one.

Kira--It was a pretty swell trip!

Kalyn--The peppers get all the good blackened stuff happening. So tasty!

Monday--Yep, the sausage was smoked!

Class Factotum--I also remember when both weren't chains. When I was very young, we used to eat at the original Chile's on Lower Greenville. The food was much, much better then. Have a great trip back to Houston!

Heather--That's exactly how I looked at all that eating--I was doing research!

Brazos said...

Central market is like Ikea but when you learn the shortcuts it's easy to get around (and avoid the dawdlers). Met Rob Walsh at the St. Arnold's book signing. Seemed like a great guy. Bought two of his books.

Georgia Pellegrini said...

Does your mom still need a housesitter? From the looks of those pictures, I'd be happy to spend some time in Houston ;)

lisa said...

Sounds like a great week! Stuffed peppers on the grill are a thing beauty.

Steff @ The Kitchen Trials said...

I want at least five of everything pictured in this post, especially the chicken fried steak and Blue Bell ice cream. Not the I'm homesick or anything. Nope. Not me. =)

Texana said...

Just made it back to Houston from NC...first stop, Ninfa's on Navigation...got my green sauce fix, along with Fajitas and those hot little carrots! Looked for you there! BBQ definitely on the horizon. Hope you had a great visit "back home".

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Brazos--Yep, there are definitely short cuts in the store.

Georgia--Ha! I think she's good for now!

Lisa--Aren't they?

Steff--It's been far too long since you've been home. You and Banjo need to take a road trip!

Texana--I was there in the back, taking pictures of all my food!

Cookie said...

BLUE BELL ICE CREAM!! It's been many many years since I've had any, ever since I moved away from Texas. I remember making it my dinner from time to time.

Dawn said...

We moved from Houston a year ago. Miss going to Hacienda San Angel for Tex-Mex and Hickory Hollow for BBQ and Chicken Fried Steak. There are so many more wonderful places, but those are just a few. Yes, you can get good eats in the south. But there's not place like home "Tejas" and nothing compares to the homeland.

Morgan G (grounded) said...

This will make my husband's day, Lisa. Thank you. How delightful that I've only known your blog for a handful of months now and I've made 2 out of 3 on the "You Might Also Like" snippet below this post!

Anonymous said...

I always say that cooking in someone else's kitchen (even my mother's! Especially my mother's!!) is like trying to walk with two different shoes. You can do it, but it just doesn't feel right. Any time spent looking for stuff means you fall out of your groove and the rhythm is off - and rhythm is important when cooking, I've found.

I'll bet these peppers would be great stuffed in poblanos rather than bells. I'll be trying them soon.

Heidi said...

Every time I read your blog I feel a bit more like a Texan! When our peeps from MD come to visit we take them to the Blue Bell Factory and then to HEB. They love both! My mom always baked her stuffed peppers, but I love the idea of grilling them! Glad you had fun in Houston!

Tammy said...

What do you like about Fiesta so much? I live not too far from Austin and have been meaning to get there but just have never made it.

Glad you enjoyed your trip.

Michelle Rollins said...

Wow. I LIVE in Texas and this makes me crave Texas food! Your stuffed peppers look so much better than I've ever made. I've apparently been making mine wrong...

deb said...

I get hungry every time I read your blog. Oh and also want to go to Houston to eat. US is on my list of places to go, so hopefully I get there one of these days. Mmmm BBQ'd meat.......

suzinoz said...

Firstly, I love the fact that other people are excited about visiting particular grocery stores on their vacations. I love touring the local grocery stores wherever we go. My Australian husband LOVES Central Market or any HEB really. The selection is amazing and he likes to sample. There are rarely samples in Australia. =( Secondly, I'm also glad that other people eat their way through their Texas vacations because I live for the six weeks each year when I get the chance to do exactly that. I hope you get back to Texas again soon!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Cookie--Now, that's a fine dinner!

Dawn--Nope, there's no place like home.

Morgan--And that makes my day!

Anon--Love the analogy--so true!

Heidi--Can you believe it was my first time at the Blue Bell factory? It won't be my last.

Tammy--Fiesta has an incredible selection of Mexican ingredients.

Michelle--The grilling makes them so good.

Deb--I hope you make it, too!

Suzinoz--A visit to a grocery store is a must wherever I visit in the world. It's such a great introduction to the culture.

Ginny said...

If you watched the World Cup, you probably noticed that our guy who scored the goal in that first game, Dempsey, was from Nacogdoches, TEXAS, right?
And I understand that he can eat him some Tex-Mex.

Arlene (CO Kid) said...

Wow! I just moved to Montgomery County and we have been to Kuntry Katfish twice. You do make the food look good! I ordered that cookbook. I wonder how many were sold just from your posting! I'm so glad I found your blog last week! I hope you share more about the Montgomery area. Or stop by and we'll take you out next time! :) I can use all the help I can get in understanding this new land. haha!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oh my word. Your food photos. Thank you for that Texas fix--I think you've covered all my favourites :-)

Can't wait to try your grilled stuffed peppers. What a great idea!

Big Brother is Watching said...

Oh, GOD, I miss Blue Bell ice cream and chicken fried steak. Can't get either up here in Boston.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ginny--Did not know that--how cool!

Arlene--Thanks for the offer--Montgomery County is a pretty place.

Just a Plane Ride Away--Hurrah! Happy to help!

Big Brother--Boston doesn't know what it's missing!

Sarah said...

Oh god how I miss Blue Bell. I have tried lots and lots of ice cream and it is by far the best in the nation. Especially Cookies & Cream. Now if we could only get it distributed in NYC!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

This definitely sounds delicious. I'm also drooling over your photo of what looks like CFS with gravy...mmm. I need to come up with a gluten-free version. I miss it!

Anonymous said...

I adore your blog!! I too am a Texan living in New York and your recipes give me both hunger and heart pangs. When I visited my mom in Houston last month, she took me to an unbelievable place called the Breakfast Klub where I had waffles and wings and catfish and grits. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend. Also, I have a grill in my backyard in Astoria that you can test recipes on any ol' time!!

Emily said...

These look really good. I have a similar recipe on my blog, but they are not grilled. Makes me want to make them soon...

Mike said...

Awwww Fiesta. I spied my first jicama at the FM1960 location back in 1985 I believe.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sarah--I'm with you on that!

Tasty Eats--Here's a link to gluten free CFS though I haven't tried it.

Anon--I haven't been there yet but I hope to go on my next trip. Catfish and grits, yum!

Emily--Hope you enjoy them!

Kearby's Kitchen said...

Do I spy some of the famous Ninfa's green sauce in the first picture?

Bria @ West of Persia said...

What a coincidence--on my way to Houston myself in just a few days and was just reading one of Robb Walsh's earlier books. Sounds and looks like you had some fantastic meals.

gillian said...

I wish Ninfa's bottled that green sauce!!

Keith said...

I see you visited Ninfa's for the chips and green sauce :)

I worked at Central Market for 6yrs in the Meat Market. If you are in town again, I would like to grab a coffee at CM with you, if you are up for it. :)

Take care,

Keith Freitag

PS - When is the book due out?

Laura said...

Oh how I miss Blue Bell ice cream....terribly. Actually I pretty much miss all the food in Texas. =(

Lauren said...

As far as the breakfast sausage this recipe calls for, I've made some stuffed peppers before with a mix of Chorizo and beef and people loved it! Not too greasy like straight Chorizo can be, but is enough to add it's delicious flavor! I am a native Texan and currently live in San Antonio. I LOVE your blog and love hearing how much people miss/enjoy Texan food :)

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