Rocoto Relleno // Stuffed Peruvian Death Peppers
Rocotos are known for a delicious appetizer or meal when they are bathed, stuffed and baked to perfection. The vinegar & sugar bath calms the heat. A little. The stuffing has another kind of Peruvian pepper, sprinkled with cheese then topped with its lid. Can you handle the heat?
1 Tbsp of Canola oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 pound of ground pork
3/4 pound of ground beef
1/4 cup of ají panca paste
1/3 cup of tomato paste
1/3 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 tablespoon of cumin powder
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
6 large rocoto peppers (9 small to medium sized)
1 cup of sugar, divided
1 cup of white vinegar, divided
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1. Heat the Canola oil in a large skillet or shallow pot and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Crumble the ground pork and beef into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often until meats are browned. Spoon off as much excess fat as possible. Add the ají panca paste, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper and cumin and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the eggs. Cover and keep warm.
2. Carefully slice the tops off the rocotos and scoop out all seeds and veins. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of white vinegar to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil the rocotos and their tops for about five minutes. Drain and repeat the process with fresh water, remaining sugar and remaining vinegar. (Tip: put the kettle on while you boil the peppers the first time so you have hot water ready for the second time.) This will (slightly) reduce their spiciness.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Drain the rocotos well, fill with meat mixture and fit peppers into a 9×9 pan snuggly. Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over the peppers, then replace their tops. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and the stuffed peppers are thoroughly heated. Serve with sliced, boiled potatoes.
Yield: Serves 6-9 (depending on size)
Source: Adapted from Kleph’s Kitchen