These make a terrific late-summer/early autumn entree, when peppers and corn peak in flavor, and when all you’ll need for heat are the microwave, stove top, and a rapid run under the broiler.

Corn kernels are best removed with a paring knife: Hold the cob straight up in a bowl that fits into your sink, and cut with even, downward sawing slices. Then scrape the cob back and forth with the back of the knife to get the pulp and milk.

If this is to be your entree, side it with garlic bread and caprese: a row of tomato and buffalo mozzarella slices scattered with basil and dribbled with superb extra-virgin olive oil. When the peppers have been emptied of their corny contents, they’re cool enough to pick up and munch right down to the root.

1/4 lb. slab pancetta or bacon, sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 medium-large yellow onion, peeled for grating
3 large ears of fresh corn, kernels removed,
cob’s milk scraped into bowl with kernels
10-12 pimiento-stuffed green olives, thinly sliced crosswise and
placed in the corn bowl
1 large red bell pepper, roasted/broiled to black blisters,
bagged to steam for 10 minutes, skin rubbed off
(not under running water), seeded, chopped,
and placed in the corn bowl
4 meaty green or red bell peppers shaped to stand
comfortably straight up
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 cup grated sharp cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese, mixed

Prep all of the above before commencing.

In a medium saucepan, cook the pancetta or bacon until just crisp over medium heat. Remove the pancetta/bacon to the corn bowl with a slotted spoon and pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Grate in most of the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, for four or five minutes. Stir in the corn kernels, chopped olives, red pepper, and bacon. Add a pinch of salt and a few grates of black pepper, and cook for four minutes, stirring often. Then keep mixture just at the simmer.

Slice the tops off the green peppers, scoop out the seeds, and trim off any membranes from the inner walls. Rinse and place them in a microwave-safe container large enough to hold them. Seal tightly, and microwave on high for three to five minutes, or until fairly tender, but not mushy. (These days, microwave ovens vary widely in power from 750-1200 watts; consult the manual that accompanied your oven for timing recommendations.) Remove plastic, drain any collected fluid, and keep the peppers warm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend the cream and egg yolks. Pour into the hot corn mixture, and stir over medium heat for a few minutes to thicken.
Fill the peppers with the hot mixture, and place them in a 12-inch square glass baking dish shallow enough to fit under your broiler. Cover the corn mixture in each pepper with the grated cheese, and run the peppers under the broiler until the cheese bubbles.

Yield: 2 entrees, or 4 side dishes

Copyright © 1999 by Tom Steele. All rights reserved.