Every year Santa Barbara metamorphoses into a party town with a longing for the traditions of yesteryear in what is called Fiesta. Fiesta, or "Old Spanish Days" as it's also known, is a week-long excuse to drink margaritas, get dressed up in frilly and colorful flamenco-style dresses and yell "viva la fiesta!" and random and odd intervals.
The whole town jumps on board the Fiesta bandwagon, including my neighborhood grocery store which had a temporary "fiesta section" in its coolers, complete with limes, guacamole, carne asada and tequila. Why this grocery store section is temporary is completely beyond me, but hey, there you have it.
So, in the spirit of Fiesta (and also because my fridge decided to kick the bucket on me and I had to use up a lot of the included ingredients) I made stuffed chilies. And can I just say one thing? If you do nothing else for yourself this summer, make these. They are absolute heaven!
I had intended to use poblanos, which is what the recipe I was basing this whole experiment off of suggested, but then our dinner guest count doubled and my local Mexican market (two blocks away, so you'll be seeing a lot of mexican food posts) only had pasillas on hand. So I got some of those, but you know, any color bell pepper would have been delicious with this filling.
The sauce you serve this dish with is as versatile as your pepper choice. The recipe I was borrowing from made a roasted red pepper sauce, which I found to be a little lackluster and would have preferred the tangy bite of a more traditional enchilada sauce. But you probably don't even need a sauce for these as they are full of flavor and moisture already.
So, squeeze some lime over your tequila, stuff yourself some peppers and no matter where you find yourself this week, take a moment to exclaim "viva la fiesta!"
chiles stuffed with goat cheese and shrimp
8 peppers (bells, poblano, pasilla, anaheim)
6 oz goat cheese, room temp
1 lb shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1 red bell pepper, minced
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup monterey jack, cheddar or feta cheese for garnish (optional)
- first, you have to scorch the peppers. This is easiest over the gas flame on your gas stove or a bbq, but in a pinch you can use your broiler, just keep a close eye on them.
- place the peppers on the flame and rotate to get them charred and blistered all over. Once they are charred place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap (or in a ziploc bag) and sweat for about 15-20 minutes. (the peppers should be soft, but not mushy at this point).
- Remove the charred skin of the peppers gently either using your hand or a paring knife (I find hand easier) and discard. You can get a bit more of the skin off by gently wiping the peppers off with a paper towel. DO NOT rinse under water or you will lose the majority of your flavor.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients except for the cheese for garnish (if you accidentally throw that into your filling that's ok, it will taste yummy). Again, I find this easiest to mix with your hand, but some vigorous creaming with a spoon could do the trick.
- gently slit each pepper down one side and very gently remove the seed - but leave the stems in tact and attached. Divide your filling into eight portions and spoon a portion into each pepper.
- Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and place the peppers on it. Sprinkle monterey jack, cheddar, feta or cotilla cheese on top.
Put the peppers into the oven until warmed through (about 20 minutes) and the cheese is melted.
- You can either serve with your favorite enchilada sauce or eat as is.