One of the great things about this recipe is its versatility. You could use just about any kind of pepper, cheese or no cheese, white bread or wheat. I think the freshness of ingredients, the fluffy interior due to fresh bread crumbs, and good seasoning make the difference. This particular preparation was done on the grill for a Memorial Day barbecue, but you could also use a broiler to achieve a similar effect.
7 long, sweet red peppers
5 slices day-old bread (I used Tuscan pane, crusts and all)
1/2 small red onion
handful fresh parsley
4-5 ounces bacon, finely diced*
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. easy-melting cheese (Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or young gouda)
Over an open flame, char six peppers just until their skin starts to blister, a few moments on each side. Set aside.
Tear bread into coarse pieces and pulse in food processor until bread forms fine, loose crumbs; remove and set aside. Pulse remaining pepper (stemmed, pith and seeds removed), onion, and parsley in processor until fine (normally I’d brunoise these, but the processor makes quick work…and you just used it anyway).
Over medium heat, saute bacon, cooking it thoroughly but not browning. Remove all but a tablespoon or two of fat from pan, reserving the excess. Saute vegetables with bacon until vegetables are lightly softened and excess liquid has cooked away. Season with piment d’Espelette, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Add bread crumbs to vegetables, tossing only until all ingredients are incorporated. Add in remaining bacon fat, if you like, and adjust salt and pepper.
Slice cheese into six even pieces. Cut an opening in each of the six peppers large enough to hold stuffing and cheese, and remove seeds and pith. Stuff each pepper with the breadcrumb mixture and cheese, trying to keep the cheese in the center of the crumb mixture. Seal the pepper at its opening, using a toothpick to help keep the stuffing inside.
Grill peppers in foil or on a pan over medium heat until peppers are soft and the cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes.
*Hint: Freezing bacon for a few minutes prior to dicing will make it easier to cut.