Since I’m growing sweet mini peppers in my garden I’ve been looking around for some good sweet mini pepper recipes. I saw a recipe for “La Roca’s Little Bulls – Toritos” from Wilson Produce. The ingredients didn’t sound particularly good to me, but I liked the idea of stuffing ’em with shrimp and wrapping them in bacon!
This dish takes a lot of work, but it was so good it doesn’t bother me to think of taking the time to make it again.
Alright! Here we go!
You Will Need:
1 package (12 slices) of bacon
12 sweet mini peppers
½ pound of large shrimp (at least 12 peeled, deveined, tails removed)
Approx. 40 toothpicks
1 Tbs taco seasoning (your choice of brands)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp lemon pepper
1 ¼ cup milk
8 oz whipped cream cheese
½ Tbs paprika
2 (4oz) cans Ortega diced green chilies
Citrus Cilantro Rice:
1 ½ Tbs fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups white (or jasmine) rice
5+ cups of water
Start by putting all of the toothpicks in a bowl of water to soak. Let them soak for at least an hour before use.
Mix the lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, and apple cider vinegar in a small dish. Refrigerate this mixture. The rice takes about 45 minutes in a rice cooker, and it may take longer than that to put everything else together. I didn’t want the rice sitting while I was finishing everything else so I waited a bit. It’s your choice though. Let the cilantro leaves soak in the juice for a little while prior to making the rice either way. Pour 3 cups of rice in a rice cooker. Pour the citrus cilantro mixture into a 1 cup measuring cup (the mixture will only fill about a quarter of the cup) and fill the rest with water. Pour over the rice. Add 5 more cups of water. Stir everything up in the cooker before turning it on.
Cut a slit down one side of each mini pepper from the stem to the bottom. Place them in a pot of water on the stove. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil for 30 minutes.
For Softer Peppers: Line a colander with paper towels and set on top of a plate. Scoop the peppers out of the water and into the colander. Cover with paper towels immediately. Steam peppers in paper towels for 10-15 minutes. Stems will easily pull off. Pepper will fall open from the slit you already cut. Be careful! Some peppers will still have hot water in them. Seeds may pull out with the stem. Scoop the seeds out if necessary. Peel the thin translucent skin off the peppers. I find that peeling for the pointed bottom towards the top is the most efficient. (HINT: Red peppers are easier to peel for whatever reason. If you’re going for this method choose all red peppers.)
For Crunchier Peppers: Drain peppers in a colander. Being cautious of hot water still in peppers de-stem, and scoop seeds.
I suggest putting the peppers on to boil and getting the shrimp marinade put together while the heat works its magic on the peppers. Choose an oven safe dish that will hold ½ pound of shrimp and the marinade. I chose a small oval glass casserole dish (about the size of a large bread pan). Add dry ingredients and cover with milk. Whisk ingredients together. Pour in shrimp. Cover. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the whole dish in the oven for 25 minutes. They won’t be completely done at this point. I used a BBQ basket to finish cooking them over the flames. You want them cooked before putting them in the peppers however you choose to cook them. A frying pan would work too.
Strain the diced chilies, mix with the cream cheese and paprika with a spatula. You will have excess cheesy-goodness after. It makes a great dip for tortilla chips. Mom decided to cover her pasta with it last night and heat it up. I’m not brave enough to try this, but Mom said to tell people it makes a great pasta sauce.
Lay the strips of bacon out flat on a plate. Place a mini pepper laid open at one end of each strip. Smear the cheese spread along the inside of the pepper and place a shrimp on top of the cheese. Wrap the pepper sides around the shrimp and roll it into the bacon slice. Use 3-4 toothpicks to hold it together making sure the toothpicks go through the shrimp. I suggest using a BBQ basket if you have one large enough. If you don’t you can place them directly on the grill and turn them individually (this is how I did it). The toothpicks will get very charred, but they will hold enough moisture to keep it all held together. Leave on the grill turning periodically with tongs until the bacon is cooked. Remove onto a plate and take out the toothpicks. I chose to serve them on a bed of the citrus cilantro rice. This was really, REALLY good. Sometimes my homemade recipes only turn out so-so. I’m saving this one FOREVER!
It might help if you sing “The 3 Caballeros” theme song while you put them together and shout: ¡Ay, caramba!
So, if you’re up for the craziness of putting this together I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor! Let me know how it goes.