Monday, February 27, 2017

Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffed Holland Pepper with Tarragon Livornese Sauce

     A Different Stuffed Pepper!
     Mild cheese and shrimp go well together and this combination is often used to stuff vegetables and pasta.  In America, Soft Cream Cheese or Neufchatel is the top choice for this kind of stuffing.  
     American Neufchatel should not be confused with the original Neufchatel Cheese from Northern France.  American Neufchatel was the result of an American cheese maker's failing attempt to replicate French Neufchatel.  The end result turned out to be a soft spreadable cheese that had lower fat content than Philadelphia Cream Cheese, so American Neufchatel is a healthier choice.  
     Either Indonesian Black Rice or Thai Black Jasmine Rice can be used in today's recipe.  Black Rice is an ancient super grain that has a high protein content and it is a good source of fibrous carbohydrates.  Black Rice stains with a deep maroon color.  This means that the stuffing for today's pepper will turn a deep maroon color.  Selecting a sweet yellow Holland Pepper is a good idea since the stuffing will be so dark.    
     Livornese Sauce is actually a classic Italian veal sauce that can also be served with seafood.  This sauce can be made al fresco with fresh tomatoes or it can be made with Salsa di Pomodoro.  Livornese Sauce is made by adding Italian black olives, green olives, capers and dry white wine to a simmering tomato sauce.  This sauce sounds simple, but the flavors are bold and complex.  Tarragon is rarely used in Italian cuisine, but it is added to today's Livornese Sauce variation.  Tarragon helps to marry the Livornese Sauce with the rich flavor of the stuffed Holland Pepper.

     Salsa di Pomodoro:  
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website.
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffing:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.  (Enough for 1 large Holland Pepper or 2 medium size Holland Peppers.)
     Holland Peppers (Sweet Yellow Bell Peppers) do vary in size, so the amount of stuffing needed will depend on the size of the Holland Peppers that you choose.  The best way to cover the stuffing volume variable is to cook some extra Black Rice, because the rice can be used as a filler to increase volume.  Basically, when making stuffed peppers, it is better to have too much stuffing than not enough!  Any extra black rice or stuffing can be used for other recipes. 
     Dried Black Rice usually only doubles in volume after being cooked.  About 2/3 cup of dried black rice will equal a little more than 1 1/3 cups after being cooked, which will yield enough stuffing for 1 large Holland Pepper.        
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a small sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Add 2/3 cup of Black Rice
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Gently simmer and steam till the water is absorbed and the Black Rice is tender.
     Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon each of:
     - minced carrot
     - minced onion
     - minced celery
     - minced green onion
     Briefly sauté till the petite mirepoix starts to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of chopped peeled deveined shrimp or whole popcorn shrimp (krill).
     Briefly sauté till the shrimp start to cook.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of shrimp stock.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced curly leaf parsley
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add the reserved portion of black rice.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 pinches)
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till most of the liquid has evaporated.
     Step 7:  Add 3 tablespoons of cream.
     Add 1/3 cup of American Neufchatel Cheese, while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese softens and combines.
     Gently simmer and reduce, while stirring, till the consistency of the stuffing becomes thick enough to easily be gathered with a spoon.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Allow the stuffing to cool to room temperature.  The stuffing should thicken a little more as it cools.  

     Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffed Holland Pepper:
     This recipe yields 1 large Stuffed Holland Pepper.
     Step 1:  Select 1 large Holland Pepper that will stand up straight when placed on a flat surface.
     Cut the top off of the pepper.
     Scrape out the pulp and seeds.
     Lightly brush the pepper with vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Fill the Holland Pepper with the Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffing.  (Any extra stuffing can be saved for other stuffed vegetable recipes.)  
     Place the Stuffed Holland Pepper in a large muffin pan cup, so it stands up straight.  (A 3 1/2" to 4" wide cup muffin pan is good.)
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the stuffing is hot and the pepper is tender, but not browned.
     Keep the Baked Stuffed Pepper warm on a stove top.  
     *The Tarragon Livornese Sauce can be made while the stuffed pepper bakes!
     Tarragon Livornese Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.  (1 portion)
     An Italian Livornese Sauce is modified for the Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffed Holland Pepper. 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot turns clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of minced capers.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green olives.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced black olives.
     Add 1 or 2 minced oil cured olives.  (optional)
     Briefly sauté till the olives and capers become aromatic.
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of salsa di pomodoro.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.  (Veal broth is usually used to make this sauce.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced fresh tarragon.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin tomato sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  (Add a splash of vegetable broth if the sauce becomes too thick.)

     Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffed Holland Pepper with Tarragon Livornese Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Spoon a generous amount of the Tarragon Livornese Sauce on a plate as a bed for the stuffed pepper.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Place the Neufchatel Shrimp and Black Rice Stuffed Holland Pepper on the center of the sauce, so the pepper stands upright.
     Step 2:  Garnish the sauce with 6 black olive halves.
     Garnish the stuffed pepper with a sprig of curly leaf parsley.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion over the stuffed pepper and sauce.

     Viola!  A unique modern diner style stuffed pepper entrée!  

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