|Top - PEPPERS ! Bottom - Alex and his deer|
Stuffed peppers are one of those things that I really just never got into. Hamburger, rice, green peppers...all perfectly fine on their own, but stuff them inside each other and for some reason they just become...NO. But I am here to tell you, readers, that I have had a pepper revelation. Even now, I am plotting how to get more of their tasty deliciousness in my mouth. I am obsessed, thanks to a new appetizer at my favorite local restaurant and an influx of what is possibly the best sausage I have ever eaten.
First, the restaurant - Fiorella's. I have written about Fiorella's before - an absolutely top-notch Italian place that is literally within walking distance of my house. They recently expanded their space (very well done - still neighborhood and homey, just a little more of it) and revamped their menu slightly. On our first visit after they reopened, we went out on a limb and tried one of their new appetizers : Stuffed Peppers Parmigiana. Red peppers stuffed with DePasquale’s hot Italian sausage, risotto, cheese...topped with their amazing marinara sauce & more cheese. (DePasquale's is a small family run sausage shop in Newton...could write a whole post about them ! No website though). These peppers were absolutely astounding - sweet, hot, cheesy, peppery goodness. Oh, man.
Second, the venison sausage. The men in my family are serious sportsmen, and my son Alex is no exception (our exploits with his wild turkey are here). This year, he got his first deer - a three point, 128 pound buck, for those keeping track. The place the guys used to use for meat cutting is now closed, but Alex was able to find a new one - Parents Meat Cutting, in Belmont NH. Venison can sometimes be gamey, but if you find a butcher that knows what they are doing (for example, NOT freezing the thing and cutting it on a bandsaw) and you have a fairly young deer, fresh venison is truly Culinary Orgasm material - and this place definitely knows what they are doing. They offered to turn some of the meat into sausage for us, and Alex wisely said yes. Oh, happy day !
We used some of this sausage in our Thanksgiving turkey stuffing this year, and I have to say...I've enjoyed a lot of sausage in my time, and this is truly some of the best sausage I have ever eaten. You can see how dark and rich it is in the picture above...it's lightly spiced, but whatever was added to it, it was done perfectly.
A new respect for stuffed peppers, and a supply of amazing sausage...this recipe was just screaming to be made. Who are we to ignore the siren call of the kitchen ?
|ready for the oven|
|a plate of goodness|
Mark's Stuffed Peppers
2 tablespoons oil (olive or canola)
2 1/2 pounds sausage meat, removed from casings
2 cups fresh (soft) breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 - 5 good sized red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and cleaned out
8 oz block mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 - 10 slices
4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
1 pound of your favorite pasta, cooked
Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a large skillet, and brown the sausage meat in it. Combine sausage, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan, and mix well. Stuff into peppers, and place in large baking pan to which you have spread 2 cups of the sauce in the bottom of. Bake for 30 minutes, then arrange cheese slices over tops of peppers and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.