29 Aug

>Elk Stuffed Peppers and Smoked Alaskan Salmon

Steven K. Ledin,


My last batch of elk stuffed peppers will haunt your dreams like your favorite other fantasies, if you were lucky enough to have tasted them. Ground elk with perfectly cooked rice and our garden cherry 100 tomatoes folded into into it, stuffed into red, green, and yellow peppers from our garden. Cooked in a casserole dish half filled with a mixture of tomato soup and my own sauce made from our plum tomatoes and oregano. Cooked for about 1.5 hours at about 350 degrees, then covered to rest. I fit 13 huge ones into two batches, so I was able to freeze most of them, ready at any time of the year to thaw and relish. Usually with my own home baked bread.

My friend Tom, who provided me with fresh Alaskan fish from his recent excursion to our 49th state, included in my bounty some Salmon. It was vacuum sealed, and whomever did the cleaning and packing sure knew what they were doing. It was supremely beautiful. The flesh was exquisite and colored with flavor. Sometimes with super-fresh fish, I can swear you can tell what kind of water they lived in. In this case, you can almost feel the numbingly cold and pristine Alaskan waters being breathed by each muscular finned creature, on their way upstream to spawn and perpetuate their species.

I skinned the steaks, and soaked them for a minute in equal parts butter and lemon juice, then smoked them over apple wood for about an hour. I made four large steaks, and My Shirley and I ate one apiece last night. We now have one apiece for an outrageous salmon salad in a shell. I made a cucumber dip and a yogurt dill suace that I never got to use. I love them with cold leftover smoked salmon. I actually was counting on a couple of folks coming over today and I could show off my cooking to them, but they cancelled, and that left more for My Shirley and me. Good times.

Today is BBQ chicken pieces. The key is low and slow. An hour at low is a bit conservative. I’ll also make corn on the cob in the husk, and bare zucchini wedges in a simple light coating.
Although I’m way too Caucasian to have much of a tolerance for jalapeno peppers, I love the flavor, and grow a lot in our garden for one specific recipe.

Grilled jalapenos: I have a jalapeno rack with 21 holes in it. Cut the tops off and gut 21 jalapenos. Poke a small hole in the bottom for the juices to drip out when cooking. Most of the heat you would taste otherwise is drained through this hole. Note: A potato peeler works really well for gutting peppers. And as always, WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE TOUCHING ANYTHING OR ANYONE THAT WILL BE BURNT BY THE JUICES! Bake at 325 degrees or grill for about an hour.

There are many options for filling them, but my favorite is as follows:
Take one can of baby shrimp and equally distribute them into the bottom of the jalapenos, and tamp down firmly. Then take a brick of cream cheese and a butter knife and fill the rest of the pepper almost to the top. The last step is to take one or two rounds of pepperoni and insert them into the top of the pepper.

The first bottom bite has the delicious fishy flavor and texture, with a sharp spike of hot from the pepper. Everything is juicy and soft. Then take a bite of the middle, and feel the hot but creamy texture of the cheese, enough to envelop the heat from the first bite like a blanket of dairy relief. The top part has exposed pepperoni slices and they’ve been toasted and crunchy from the oven. Pop that last part, and crunch it up and mix it in your mouth with the last bits of jalapeno and cream cheese and just sit there and sob because it was so good. These are absolutely decadent. Repeat.

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