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.