Recently, someone asked me why I love cooking and I realized that it’s the concept of sharing that made me fall in love with food in the first place. Throughout traveling, I have noticed that few countries have this American habit of ordering a dish and hording it all to their greedy little selves. They order small plates or a few entrees to share from the middle of the table. They also take a lot longer, talk a lot more, eat slower and enjoy their downtime and the good things in life a little bit more. This is my theory on why Europe is so much thinner than we are – even though they eat excessive amounts of rich cheese and drink wine through the day starting at lunch. Eating becomes less of a chore and more of a social event; you eat less and enjoy it more. Americans fill themselves as much as possible as quick as possible and if a dinner takes more than an hour, its a pain the ass (pardon my French).
In any case, I’ve always desired my food to be a celebration of all the good things that we overlook and take for granted, not solely delicious taste explosions. And so here it is: a dish designed to do just that, a dish meant to be shared, inspired by these gorgeous bad boys from Argentina – the land of long meals and passionate people:
If you didn’t notice how beautiful they are:
Mini Sweet Peppers with Mexican Meatballs
- 10 small sweet peppers
½t. each: fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
¾ lb lean pork (you’re gonna have some left over)
juice of 1 lime
1 ½ t. cilantro, finely chopped
1 ½ t. parsley, finely chopped
¼ jalapeno, very finely diced
2t white onion, very finely diced
½ t. each: cayenne, cumin, chili con carne, fine sea salt, fresh ground black pepper
2T bread crumbs
5-6T butter (or earth balance)
1C. shredded mozzarella
1. Keeping the stems in tact, slice peppers clean through the stems and down the center; remove the seeds and all white veins, toss with the olive oil and ½t of salt and pepper and bake at 450 until just barely browned (about 10 minutes). Keep a close eye on them because these small peppers cook a lot faster.
2. By hand, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs and roll into small dime sized balls (they’ll be the cutest little meatballs you ever did see).
3. In a medium sized saute pan, heat 2-3T of butter on high.
4. Once melted, add meatballs and turn slowly to brown on each side. While browning, continuously add small amounts of butter to keep them from burning or drying out. Cook until browned but just a teeny bit undercooked in the center – (how do you tell? Lightly push on the tip of your nose. That’s what well done meat feels like if you poke it. Now, pinch the meaty part between your thumb and your forefinger. That’s medium. Last but not least, pinch the dinky skinny skin just above the meaty part between your thumb and forefinger. That’s rare.) You want the balls to be super rare (hah).
5. Now that the meatballs and peppers are ready, put a T or so of the grated cheese in each pepper half, then top with as many meatballs fit (probably 2-3), then bake at 325 until the cheese melts.
6. Plate and eat!