The original Turducken is a dish that is more about the idea than the execution, with glaring food safety and execution issues that require complicated machinations to surmount. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make one if you’re into that kind of challenge. Just be prepared!
This vegetal version, however, poses no such issues. It’s easy, sensible, and extremely delicious. It makes a lovely presentation, without being pretentious, humbly showcasing the commingled flavors of tomato, garlic, and basil—flavors that were made to go together, somehow, but still, surprise and delight when they come off the grill in the whole pepper shell. Smoked cheese holds it all together, both literally and figuratively. As it does.
When choosing peppers to stuff, look for peppers with good balance, that can stand upright easily on the grill. Tomatoes can be cut to fit inside the peppers, but it’s fun to size them so they fit in whole, too. Like little vegetable nesting dolls. This recipe can be made with small roasting peppers or full sized bells.
For each pepper to be stuffed, slice the top off in a thick, level slice, so that it can be used to cap the pepper again, once it is stuffed. Remove the seeds and any associated white pith.
Mince the garlic finely, and sprinkle some into the bottom of the pepper.
Remove the stem and any troublesome core from the tomato, and fit it into the pepper.
Make sure the stem end can still fit on top of the pepper; trim away any tomato that interferes with the pepper top fitting back on well.
Tuck some more minced garlic around the sides of the tomato, and sprinkle some into the seed cavity, as well, if it is exposed.
Slice the cheese into thin slices or matchstick slivers, which slip into the curved voids easier than grated cheese in most cases. Tuck the cheese into the center of the tomato, where the stem was removed, and around the edges between tomato and pepper.
Tuck a basil leaf or two into each stuffed pepper, as well.
Top the peppers with their lids once more, and use toothpicks to secure the tops if needed. The tops help cook the pepper from the inside out.
Place the peppers on a hot grill and cook for 15 minutes, or until the peppers have begun to soften, and the cheese is melted, and the tomato is roasted, and it smells heavenly. That’s how you know it’s ready, is the smell.
Remove the peppers from the heat, and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Serve whole.
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