12 medium size bell peppers
12 bell pepper tops, chopped
¼ cup butter
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves whole garlic, minced
3 lbs. peeled shrimp, butterflied and coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper
4 cans chicken broth, as needed
10 slices fresh white breadcrumbs christened in broth
1 egg, beaten well
3 lbs. white crabmeat
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup whole milk, if needed
Buttered cracker crumbs
Olive oil + bottled water
First thing you do is pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then take the peppers and prep them for par boiling.
The way you do that is you cut off the tops and remove the seeds and membranes from inside the pepper globes. Then submerge the globes in rapidly boiling, lightly salted water and boil them for 4minutes. When the peppers are tender, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and refresh them in a bowl of ice-cold water.
In a large skillet (actually, I prefer a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions, bell pepper, green onions, and garlic until they wilt and become tender.
At this point, coarsely chop the shrimp into segmented pieces and rapidly stir them into the seasoning mixture for about 3 minutes (or until they just turn pink). Then stir in the celery, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and blend everything thoroughly.
Now just as you take the mixture off the heat, quickly whip in the beaten egg (you got to do this super-fast or the egg will scramble on you!). At this stage, begin folding in the softened bread and the crabmeat a little at a time—at all costs you don’t want to break up the crabmeat! Then when you have the bread and the crabmeat combined in the mix, add the Parmesan cheese and gently turn it into the bread until it melts.
Suggestion: If the mix is too dry, and it should be rather pasty (not wet or crumbly), add a few tablespoons of whole milk to moisten the stuffing. But do not add too much or your stuffing will become too running if you do.
Finally, fully stuff the peppers so that the mixture mounds up on top. Then cap them with a generous sprinkling of buttered cracker crumbs. Place them into 2 large oblong casserole dishes, pour a scant amount of water and olive oil around the peppers in the bottom of the dishes, and bake them uncovered for about 40-45 minutes or until the crumbs turn a toasty brown.
Serve them steaming hot right from the oven or at room temperature right out of the refrigerator. With a cold crisp salad, tossed with poppy seed dressing, they’re fabulous either way.
As a variation to this recipe, you can cut the peppers in half lengthwise and stuff them as “half-peppers” to make the dish serve more people. I suggest that if you decide to do this, however, you opt for large peppers instead of medium-size ones.
I recommend that you make your own cracker crumbs. Simple put unsalted-top soda crackers in a plastic zipper bag and crush them with a meat mallet or a rolling pin until they are semi-coarse.
To do buttered cracker crumbs, simply pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the plastic zipper bag and jostle the crumbs back and forth until each morsel becomes butter-coated.
For best results, the olive oil/water ratio should be 50/50.
If you’d prefer not to stuff the peppers, you can just make the stuffing, place it into an 11 X 14 Pyrex baking dish, bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour, and serve it as a true casserole.
This same recipe can be used (with a few obvious alterations, of course) for making stuffed mirlitons, stuffed eggplant, and seafood-stuffed Creole tomatoes.