…and then there was one! Stuffed Bell Peppers, I think they are as individual as the person that makes them. There are so many different variations. What is your stuffing of choice? Mine is dirty rice for that is my hubby’s favorite (but personally I’d much rather seafood stuffing. Oh, the things we do for love!!) My hubby enjoys stuffed bell peppers so much, he has been known to eat a “few” which usually leaves an odd man, “pepper” out. One stuffed bell pepper, not enough for dinner, unless…and this recipe was born. Yes, I know, it’s not the fist time I stuffed a pepper into a chicken! Remember Stuffed Jalapeno Chicken with Enchilada Sauce? http://wp.me/p57UhS-dS
Stuffed Bell Pepper Chicken: For this recipe, I like to use split chicken breasts. (Boneless chicken breasts can be substituted, just decrease cooking time.) I love the value of the split chicken breasts, from the cost to the amount of meat. This recipe will make 4.
Let’s get started: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the last cold leftover stuffed bell pepper into quarters, then cut each quarter in half. Set aside. Cut a slit into and all the way down the thick edge of 4 split chicken breasts. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Spread each chicken breast open, forming a pocket. Stuff each chicken breast pocket with 2 sections of the stuffed bell pepper. Put on broiler pan. Drizzle each chicken breast with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle each with garlic powder, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning. Rub in. Bake for 1 hour.
In the meantime, chop 2 Roma tomatoes (or could use 1 can Rotel) and set aside. In a cast iron skillet, melt 2 TBSP butter over low heat. Add 2 TBSP flour, a little at a time, whisking or stirring constantly. Guessed it yet? Yep, we’re making a roux, (“ROO”) to make a rich brown Cajun gravy for our stuffed chickens. Keep stirring until smooth. If you don’t have a roux spoon to help in the beginning, just use a whisk. Raise the heat to medium. Cook and stir until a blond roux is formed. (By stirring, the risk of burning the roux is minimized. Anybody from Louisiana can tell you, a burnt roux is food wasted. There is no turning back, and we don’t want that.) It should take about 4-5 minutes. A blond roux is a light golden brown (tan) color with an aroma of toasted bread. To the skillet, add in 1 cup of chopped seasoning. Today, I am using green onions, onion, and celery. Stir until onions are wilted. (Keep stirring, we are still “cooking” the roux turning it into a brown roux.) Add in chopped tomatoes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup room temperature (don’t want our roux to separate) beef broth, 1/2 cup of warm water, and 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (optional). Turn heat back down to low and simmer 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally. That’s it.
These stuffed chicken breasts and gravy can be eaten over rice, almost like a chicken creole. Today, however, since I already had rice in my stuffed bell pepper, I am making cornbread pancakes, or quick corn cakes. This is a quick go to in our house. Hubby loves cornbread, but I usually forget to get it started until we are almost ready to eat! So, I just pull out a skillet and he has his fix in a matter of minutes before dinner can get cold. Simply use your favorite cornbread batter and cook like pancakes in a greased skillet.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What other side would work well? Grits are a nice change, especially cheese grits. How could the stuffing in your bell pepper change the flavor of the chicken? Do you cook your peppers with tomatoes? If so, add in okra instead of tomatoes. Like it spicy? Add in hot sauce and jalapenos to the gravy. I added jalapenos to the corn cakes today. Do you use seafood stuffing in your peppers? Add corn with the tomatoes and substitute chicken stock for a lighter sauce. In a pinch for a quick sauce, use spaghetti sauce and serve over pasta. If so, cooked cubed eggplant is a nice addition.
FOOD FUN: Louisiana lost a great legacy this week, Chef Paul Prudhomme. He was a worldwide ambassador of Cajun cuisine (…and the day I ate his Blackened Redfish as a young teen is a day I will never forget!) To honor him, here are a few of his quotes on FUN. Food for thought as you stir your roux.
“Have fun. Do something nobody else had done before, or has done since.”
“We had no electricity, no gas. Food was probably our greatest entertainment-the most fun thing that we could do was food”
“It’s the sense of what family is at the dinner table. It was the joy of knowing mother was in the kitchen making our favorite dish. I wish more people would do this and recall the joy of life.”