Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ricotta and lemon stuffed chillies

The poor blameless chilli has a rather macho reputation, but these little nibbles are quite different. Despite their vibrant warning colour they only have a subtle kick.

Slow cooking mellows the heat but retains the flavour and gives the skin a melting, silky quality. Any lingering fires are extinguished by the cool, creamy ricotta and lemon filling. These are very moreish so be prepared to nibble a few while you're making them!

The grocers on Gerrard Street in London's China town are great if you want to buy a large amount of this type of chilli - they're sold by the kilo!

Feeds 4 as a drinks nibble

15 red chillies, about 10cm long
250g ricotta
the grated rind of 2 lemons
3 tbsp grated parmesan
Oil for cooking(either light olive oil or vegetable oil)

1) Wearing rubber gloves, cut away the stalk end of each chilli, and scoop out the white pith and seeds then wash all the chillies to remove any lingering seeds. Take care when doing this as the chillies will give off rather pungent chilli fumes! Dry with kitchen paper.

2) Place the chillies in a single layer in a large pan, and fill the pan with enough oil to cover them. Turn the heat onto the lowest setting, so the chillies are very gently poached, and cook until the tip of a sharp knife easily pierces the skin (about 20 minutes). Allow the chillies to cool in the oil, then drain and set aside.

3) Cream the ricotta in a bowl with the lemon and parmesan until smooth, then lightly season the mixture – the parmesan is already pretty salty. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large gauge nozzle (or, make your own piping bag and cut a 1cm diameter hole at the tip), and pipe the mixture into each chilli.

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