Pssssst! Did you read about Lisa’s challenge the other day? You need to get in on it, so head over and read about it when you’re done here. 🙂
The other day, I walked into the grocery store without a shopping list. (Shame on me, I know!) I only needed to pick up some food staples (eggs, refried beans, coffee), but what I was really craving was vegetables. It didn’t really matter what kind, but I had hit that mid-winter “I need fresh vegetables NOW!” funk, and I needed something more than salad to get my fix.
So imagine my disappointment when I found the produce section surprisingly empty.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that there were 3 green peppers in the entire store, and they were all wrinkly. A few heads of wilted broccoli.
And I’m not talking about some little boutique grocery store. I was in Rainbow, a major chain store…and that was all they had to offer. Lots of empty shelves, some leftovers that were past their prime, and a lot of signs apologizing for the lack of quality and quantity due to the abnormally cold weather across the country.
So I stood there and stared for a while, wondering if there was anything I could make with yucca root, chayote, and four tomatillos (apparently these are not high-demand items). I drew a big blank. In the end, I threw a bunch of Swiss chard and a 2-pound bag of mini peppers into my cart.
The chard, I knew, would be pretty darn good if I chopped it up and sauteed it with a couple of pieces of bacon. (Remember my feelings on baconated vegetables?) But the peppers…as much as I wanted fresh veggies, I’ve never been a fan of plain raw peppers. So I did some brainstorming while I cruised around the store picking up the rest of my stuff. Something clicked on my way through the meat department, and I picked up some ground chicken…and this recipe was born.
I’m not really sure if this is a snack or a side dish. In fact, despite my original intentions, I wouldn’t even file this under the “vegetable” category — it’s more protein than anything else. And I admit that it was a little putzy to make. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it turned out way better than I expected.
While the oven was preheating to 450 degrees, I started by cutting the peppers in half and cleaning out the seeds. I ended up using about 1.5 pounds of the 2-pound bag. As I cut and cleaned them, I laid them out on baking sheets.
I guess the look more like “rafts” than “boats,” but hopefully you won’t hold that against me.
Once that was done, I started in on the chicken mixture. The first step was to mix up some buffalo sauce. I melted some butter in a little bowl, then whisked it up with the key ingredient: Frank’s RedHot Sauce.
There’s no substitute for this stuff. I love it. As the little old lady spokesperson says, “I put that s%*! on everything.”
I put one pound of ground chicken in a big mixing bowl, added the buffalo sauce, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 cup chickpea flour. You need the flour as a binder; to keep it BRD-friendly, don’t use a grain-based flour. I like chickpea flour because chickpeas are legumes, but you could also use almond meal.
Mix it all up until it turns the nastiest shade of pink you can imagine. Then fold in about 1/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a handful of chopped green onions.
Um, okay. I’d be lying if I told you I was confident at this point. I had my doubts. It did not look appetizing. (Also, I forgot to add the green onions, but I made it up by sprinkling them on at the end). But I had already cut up all those peppers, and I knew that if it didn’t turn out, well…I’d just never tell you about it.
Forging ahead, I used a couple of spoons to form the chicken into roughly 1-inch meat wads. I put one meat wad on each pepper raft. It’s pretty important that you put the same amount of meat on each pepper, so that they all cook evenly. Otherwise smaller chicken balls might get overcooked, while bigger chicken balls are still a bit pink in the middle. No bueno. Once your meat wads are evenly distributed, you can pop them in the oven.
After 20 minutes, the peppers were starting to look roasted on the edges, and the chicken balls were turning golden. I cut one open to check, and it looked good, so I called it done!
A little drizzle of ranch dressing (emphasis on “little”) and a smattering of scallions, and voila!
I’m giving this recipe a yu-MMM-y rating. It’s delicious, but three stars for prep time (definitely not fast) and, well, because I set out to make a vegetable dish, and I’m not sure this qualifies. But it is tasty, and BRD-approved, and a would work great if you need an appetizer to stock your Superbowl table.
I hope you enjoy! And don’t forget to get in on Lisa’s challenge!
- 1½ pounds sweet mini peppers
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ¾ cup chickpea flour
- ½ cup Frank's RedHot Sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup gorgonzola or blue cheese
- 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Cut peppers in half and clean out the seeds.
- Microwave the butter in a small bowl to melt. Whisk in hot sauce.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, sauce, flour, egg, and salt until well mixed. Fold in cheese and scallions.
- Form chicken mixture into 1-inch balls. Place one chicken ball on each pepper half.
- Bake for 20 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with extra scallions and drizzle lightly with ranch dressing.