Manzana Rellenas (Stuffed Manzana Peppers)

Manzana (or manzano, depending on who you ask) peppers are often times called “rocoto peppers” or “locoto”, depending on the region you’re in. Biologically they are different, but in terms of practicality, they’re really the same. Rocotos are more red, while Manzanas have a vibrant orange color with large, round black seeds. Indigenously, they both grow high up in the Peruvian Andes and, unlike most chiles, grow best in cooler weather. This recipe is a traditional Peruvian recipe and is typically served with simple potato gratin, Arequipa style.

The peppers are extremely hot and since this heat is like breathing in fire, I strongly recommend (from experience) covering your nose and mouth when cutting and boiling them.

When using this recipe, be sure to add salt, pepper, herbs and spices throughout the cooking time rather than all at once. This will help to layer the sweet-salty-spicy combination in every bite. Add the egg at the very last minute and stir minimally to keep the eggy flavor and texture in tact.

These peppers are also fantastic when pickled and used in tacos, sandwiches, pizzas. To pickle, first seed and de-vein the peppers and soak in ice water, the same as below, to cut some of the intense heat before using your favorite pickle recipe. If you want to cut the heat even more, boil them for a half hour or so. When chopped oh-so-finely, they’re already great additions to a seriously spicy salsa.

You can substitute jalapenos, pasilla chiles (which will be easier to find and MUCH less hot) or Bulgarian carrot peppers, if you happen to find them (and let me know if you do, I want some too…) Alternatively, you can also use this filling to fill empanadas; just use the refrigerated canned crescent dough if you don’t want to make your own and make sure to add a decent amount of red chile flake to have some balance in the flavors the you’d be missing without the peppers. The beef, the egg, the olive and the raisins make for a fairly traditional Chilean empanada filling.

Ingredient Amount How
Manzana peppers

8

oz

cotija cheese

1

tbsp

queso oaxaca or jack cheese

1/2

cup

shredded
beef

1/2

cup

finely chopped (not ground)
eggs

4

—-

boiled and chopped
black olives

1/2

cup

sliced
black raisins

1

tbsp

rehydrated in water
cream

3

tbsp

olive oil

1-2

tsp

butter

1-2

tbsp

dried oregano 1-2+ pinch
red chile flake

1

pinch (optional)
garlic

3

tsp minced
shallots (sub white onion)

3

finely diced
cumin 1-2+ tsp
dried bay leaf

2

salt and pepper layered, to taste
    Directions

  1. Cut the tops off of the peppers and scoop the seeds and white veins from the inside, then soak peppers in bowl of ice water with 1T white vinegar for 1 hour to overnight.
  2. After soaking, boil peppers until just softened, then remove and let stand at room temperature.
  3. In a deep skillet, sauce pot or dutch oven, add olive oil, bay leaf, garlic and onion and cook until fragrant, seasoning with salt, pepper, chile flake and oregano.
  4. Add cubed beef and tablespoon of butter, cook until beef begins to brown on the outside (about 3 minutes)
  5. Add cream and bring to soft boil, reduce for app. 6 minutes
  6. Add crumbled quest fresco, cumin and more oregano, salt and garlic powder. Stir in and let cheese melt.
  7. Turn heat down and check meat for doneness. Once cooked through, add olives, egg and raisin and stir in. Add more cotija cheese and stir in.
  8. Once the beef is cooked through and all ingredients have been incorporated, spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out peppers and top with the oaxacan or jack cheese.
  9. Bake on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until warmed through and cheese is melted and browned.

 

BBQ Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy

I’ve been trying to expand these recipes to more “full meal appropriate” entries rather than small pieces of how to look fancy. In doing so, I’ve come back to my old homesteading ways. The ways of the farms in far away lands, the ways of the jam-making in Lower Haight,the ways of spending 8 hour chunks of time in the kitchen making everything from mustard and crackers to ice cream flavored with home grown fruit. Oh, those days…where have you gone? To where has all that youthful enthusiasm and energy fled? Perhaps to late nights of word scramble and Mah Jong? Perhaps to the new visual enjoyment of This American Life? (Thanks a lot, Ira Glass…) Wherever it went to, it’s on its way back for a (hopefully extended) visit, so lets go home.

Good ole fashioned meatloaf is the best way to negate the anger that is flooding all us San Franciscans just as the cold fog is flooding our Indian Summer. Now is the time for hot, heavy food – chili, roasted chicken, meatloaf – and this is the best recipe with which to welcome it back. I do, very very sincerely, beg of you – pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase (on my knees) don’t use store bought barbeque sauce. Just don’t. I’m not going to lecture you on corn syrup, how it’s a disgrace to the intregity of food, how it’s bad for your body, agriculture, farmers or the economy of food. I won’t. I will just say that this barbeque sauce will taste better than any you can buy and you will feel so much better about your endeavors after a mere half hour (that’s not even a whole episode of This American Life).

Barbeque Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy MeatloafBBQ

For the BBQ Sauce

This recipe makes just about enough for the meatloaf, so depending on how much you might use in other items (perhaps a burger patty made from some left over ground beef?) you could want to double it. Another good use of this sauce is as a marinade for tofu.

      1c. canned tomatoes, or 2 heirloom tomatoes, smoked, and 1c. unseasoned tomato sauce*

 

      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

 

      2/3c. red onion, finely chopped

 

      1/2 jalapeno, finely diced, with seeds

 

      2T brown sugar, or Mexican Piloncillo, grated

 

      1t tamarind paste**

 

      juice from 1/2 lemon

 

      1/8t curry powder

 

      1/8t smoked salt***

 

      1/4t cumin

 

      1/2t liquid smoke

 

      1/2t extra virgin olive oil

 

      1t cider vinegar

*This sauce is a great reason to shell out $40 and get a stove-top smoker from your local Sur la Table. Buuuut, if you don’t have the means to smoke the tomatoes yourself, I strongly recommend Muir Glen Organic’s Fire Roasted kind.

*If you can’t find tamarind paste (though its more widely available than you would think, just ask around – especially in the “ethnic foods” aisle, or at Asian and Mexican markets) it can be substituted with tamarind pods. Leave them whole and keep them in the sauce the entire time its cooking, then remove at the end.

***You can get smoked salt at some specialty stores (such as Rainbow Grocery here in San Francisco) or order it online. If you don’t use smoked salt, use regular sea salt and add 1/4t more liquid smoke.

1. Warm a medium sauce pan over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil until just softened but not browned.
2. Add tomatoes, then slowly add sugar and tamarind paste, stirring and watching to make sure it all dissolves well.
3. Once the tamarind paste and sugar are dissolved, add everything else slowly and reduce to a simmer.
4. Simmer for half hour or until the taste is right for you.
5. Remove from heat, cool, and puree in food processor. Don’t worry when it still seems chunkier than the KC Masterpiece your un-culinarily inclined roommate fills the fridge with, that’s just because it has real tomatoes in it. You definitely want it that way.
6. Enjoy with the following:

For the Meatloaf

      1/2lb ground beef

 

      1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

 

      2T red onion, finely chopped

 

      1 1/2T BBQ Sauce + 1t

 

      2T bread crumbs

 

      1 egg

 

      2 strips quality bacon

 

      Good amount of sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350.
2. Put all ingredients (saving the extra teaspoon of BBq sauce) together in a bowl and mix well by hand.
3. Here’s the key to making it right:

        Coat a small loaf pan in butter and pack the uncooked meatloaf into it, smoothing out the flat side, then gently shake it out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Once out, the loaf is now coated in the butter. Now, coat it in BBQ sauce and lay the bacon strips gently over it.

4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, remove and rise oven temp to 450.
5. Once heated, replace meatloaf for 10 minutes to brown the outside.
6. Remove bacon strips and serve on the side.
7. Serve with:

And the Mushroom Gravy

      2C. mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped

 

      1/4C. butter + 1t

 

      1/2 small white onion, finely chopped

 

      1C. heavy cream

 

      1/2C. stock (veggie, chicken or beef)

 

      1T flour

 

      1/2 small garlic clove, finely minced

 

      1/2T balsamic vinegar

 

      Salt and Pepper

1. In a medium sauce pan, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic in 1t butter until just a little softened
2. Add stock and cream
3. In small amounts, add flour, whisking the whole time to make sure it doesn’t clump up (I like to add the flour later for this, because I don’t want it to brown)
4. Continue whisking!!! and add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue whisking until it is nice and thick and delicious
6. Remove from direct heat, but keep stirring it up until you serve it – otherwise it will thicken into a lumpy mistake.

Now, put ’em all together with some mashed potatoes (you’re on your own, here) and serve it in this order: Mashed potatoes on the bottom, then the meatloaf, maybe a little extra BBQ sauce, then the gravy. MMMMMMmmmmmmm Mama.