Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Bounty on his Head, I Say... Damn Those Were Hot

If I get my hands on that Guy Fieri, I will pluck out that white hair of his one spiked clump at a time. You know Guy, don’t you? He’s that really hip California chef dude who hosts several Food Network shows. A couple of years ago he won a reality show contest called “The Next Food Network Star” and he blossomed into an onscreen powerhouse. I actually liked him until a few nights before the Super Bowl.

It all began on a recent episode of “Guy’s Big Bite”. He made a delicious looking Italian sausage and cheese combo, stuffed it into some halved and seeded Jalapeños, and topped it with mozzarella. After a minute or 2 under the broiler, he served a bubbly gooey little bite that looked unbelievable. What a spectacular little delectable to serve friends coming over for the big game. Guy said (and I’ve heard others say before) that the heat of the Jalapeño is found in the seed and white innards, not in the pepper. By removing the seeds and scraping out the inner part of the pepper, it would be flavorful but not hot.

Now while I enjoy spice a lot, I do NOT like spice for the sake of HEAT only. That heat needs to contribute in some way to a positive experience. Also, I don’t work with Jalapeños very often in their raw form. You might be starting to see where I’m going with this. No one mentioned to me that the white inner RIBS of the pepper was where the heat lived. While I think I’m following Guy’s instructions, he was ambiguous about the consequences of not fully removing the ribs, or worse, not removing them AT ALL.

So the sausage came out to perfection. The taste was unbelievable. I used a combo of Provolone and Mozzarella and under the broiler they went. Just like on TV, they came out perfect looking. Little bubbles of brown cheese surrounding peaks of protruding sausage like a mini landscape on an inviting mountain side. I plated these and photographed for future writing.

Once sufficiently cooled, I could hardly wait to take my first delicious bite. I popped the whole stuffed pepper right in. It began with the cheese. Then the sausage and spices began bathing my palate in familiar yumminess. Within 10 seconds, however, the entire experience took a dramatic turn. FU** this is HOT!!!! It felt as if my skin was melting away from my face and my eyes were nothing more than two smoldering lumps of coal.

I'm sweating

How utterly insensitive to not fully explain the anatomy of this pepper before offering such a visually stimulating recipe. I’m not a moron (don’t argue that please). I know that Jalapeños are hot. I would never consider eating Nachos without extra though. This, however, was over the top.

Then suddenly, something interesting happened. After a tall glass of milk and some fresh bread to stem the tide of the inferno in my mouth, I wanted another. And after that cycle repeated, I wanted another. Yes the heat was brutal but the flavor of that Italian sausage and ooey-gooey cheese combo was too much to resist. Frankly, the pepper tasted wonderful and fresh too.

So for the first time in my 20 or so years in the kitchen, I am recommending something that I had a difficult time eating. I will share this recipe but remember this: COMPLETELY REMOVE THE SEEDS AND ALL PARTS OF THE INNER PEPPER THAT IS WHITE OR YOU WILL SUFFER.

Normally I take some artistic liberty with these recipes but in this case I made it pretty much verbatim except I added Provolone (Just wanted to make sure I give the appropriate credit).

Italian Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

15 jalapeños, preferably red, cut in 1/2, seeded and deveined
1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups mascarpone or cream cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded Provolone cheese
Minced chives

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place jalapeños on a sheet tray and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan. Add onions, peppers, garlic and sausage and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove and place in a large bowl. Cool to room temperature, then add mascarpone, and Parmesan. Mix ingredients thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.
Place approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture into each jalapeno half, and top with 1/2 teaspoon of provolone and mozzarella cheese combined.
Place the sheet tray of stuffed peppers in oven and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
Garnish with minced chives and Parmesan.


Dora said...

Oh my gosh! Yes, you're right. There should be explicit instructions to remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers.

Bad Guy! Bad Guy! lol

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most exciting posts IMHO, as I am a true fan of the hottest of the hot. I'm trying this out this weekend- stay tuned. RFS

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to recommend gloves when seeding and cleaning hot peppers, or never let your fingers wander near your eyes!! Love your post!

Leslie said...

LOL..isnt it funny how we sometimes torture ourselves w/ food! The sweating photo is classic!!!