Pan-Fried Peppers With Fancy Grits

Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 1 hr
Cook 20 mins

This is great for a relaxed dinner party - all the components of the dish can be made ahead and then assembled and fried at the last minute. Since I live in Bulgaria, I don't actually use feta - instead, I make this with cirene (pronounced see-run-ay), which is a white cheese similar to feta but less briny-tasting. If you're in Chicago, there's a Bulgarian deli that sells this mainstay of Bulgarian cuisine - definitely worth checking out.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Make grits: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add liquid and bring to a boil. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly. Add cheese and basil, continuing to stir, and once it's all thick and lovely, pour the mixture into a greased 8" pan. Let it cool to room temperature and then pop it, covered, into the fridge overnight.
  2. Make stuffing: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion, cooking until softened, 5-7 minutes. While onion cooks, combine everything else except the bell peppers in a bowl and mix well. When the onions are ready, add them to the cheese mixture and put the pan (with any remaining oil) back on the heat.
  3. Assemble: cut off the top ½" of one pepper. Make a slit down the whole length of one side and open it, laying it flat on the cutting board with the insides facing up. Clear out the seeds and, with the knife parallel to the cutting board, slice off the ribs (which will make the dish taste bitter if left in). Put about 1 tablespoon of the stuffing onto one side of the pepper, leaving some room at the sides, and fold the empty half over top. Repeat with remaining peppers and stuffing.
  4. Remove grits from the fridge and cut into 6 pieces. Fry them up in the skillet that held the onions until they're golden brown, about 3-5 minutes each side. Put 2 grits cakes on each of 3 plates. Fry the peppers until browned and just crispy enough, 2-3 minutes each side. Put a pepper on top of each grits cake, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
  5. Notes: If you're not much for planning ahead when it comes to dinner, you don't have to do all the fussing with the grits – just cook them like it says in the first paragraph and give each plate a ladleful before putting the cooked stuffed peppers on top. If you are much for planning ahead when it comes to dinner, you can also prepare the stuffing and peppers ahead of time and put it all together a few minutes before it's time to eat.

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