I remember so many New Year’s Eve nights spent at home with my parents. We watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, drank sparkling grape juice and ate finger foods. Usually there were veggies and ranch dip, crackers with summer sausage and cheese and maybe even little smokies in bbq sauce. It was more about fun than fancy, but it is one of the only times I remember my mom making appetizers. My appetizer repertoire is similarly limited. So, when I organized a mom’s night out this month that included a best dish competition, I’m not really sure why I decided the food categories should be appetizers and desserts. I agonized for days over what I would bring. Then, I remembered on of my husband’s favorite things. In fact, we usually serve this up with a salad and eat it as a meal, but it makes a fantastic appetizer.
Start by roasting the chiles in your broiler. You can certainly use a grill for all of this, but I was too lazy to stoke up the charcoal in the cold. Alas, these are not New Mexico green chiles, they are Aneheims. New Mexicos are out of season and I find frozen chiles just don’t work as well for this as fresh. You could also use Poblanos.
When the chile skins are nice and browned, take the chiles out of the broiler and toss them in a tightly sealed plastic bag. This allows the heat to steam the chiles while they are cooling and makes the skins even easier to remove. Peel the chiles. Make an opening down one side to remove the seeds and ribs. Then, slice cheese into long sticks about 1/4″x1/4″x4-6″ (I use half a block and cut 4 equal sized sticks the length of the block). Divide the sausage into 4 equal parts and wrap one part of sausage around each stick of cheese. Try to make sure you cover the cheese completely.
Stuff each piece of sausage covered cheese into a chile and wrap with bacon. Stretch the slice of bacon as you wrap to keep it tight and to make sure you only use 1 slice of bacon per chile.
Bake (or grill) until sausage is cooked through and bacon crisps. I find the bacon gets much crispier on the grill than it does in the oven. And yes, I did wash that cutting board with hot soapy water while the chiles were cooking.
Let these cool for a few minutes so the cheese will set. Then use a sharp knife to slice them into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds. Serve warm.
4 large Aneheim chiles
1/2 pound ground sausage (breakfast or Italian)
1/2 pound sharp chedder cheese
4 slices bacon
Roast chiles under the broiler until skins are bubbly and brown. Remove chiles from broiler. Place in a tightly sealed plastic bag to cool. When chiles are completely cooled, remove the peels and the seeds leaving as much of the chile intact as possible.
Heat oven to 350*.
Slice cheese into 4 equal sized sticks about as long as the chiles. Divide sausage into 4 equal parts. Wrap each stick of cheese with one part of the sausage. Stuff sausage wrapped cheese into the peeled, seeded chile. Wrap each chile with a slice of bacon, slightly stretching each bacon slice as you wrap.
Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes or until sausage is cooked through and bacon starts to crisp.
The other night, we were watching Diners, Drive ins and Dives. Guy visited the Highway 61 Roadhouse and enjoyed their CajAsian potstickers. Now, we love Andouille sausage at my house. His recipe used fresh Andouille, which I can’t get. And, since Andouille tends to be on the spicy side, I needed something to tame it down a bit for the little mouths I feed. Thus, my Andouille potsticker was born. These little dumplings are divine, but prep takes a large chunk of time (unless you are a seasoned dumpling maker – which I am not). I start by dicing up my pre-cooked Andouille sausage and tossing it in a hot skillet to brown.
Yes, I’m using my cast iron again. I love my cast iron and someone once told me that cooking in it helps keep your iron levels in the normal range (and since I’m almost always slightly anemic, I figure it’s worth a shot). While my sausage is browning a bit, I dice up a whole package of button mushrooms and add them in. This not only bulks up the filling amount, but also helps tone down the spice level without making a significant change in flavor.
I know it looks like a lot of mushrooms, but I promise they cook down a lot. Just keep cooking them until they’re nice and brown. Then turn off the heat and let the filling cool.
I used square wonton wrappers this time because it was what the store had. You can certainly use round ones or even cut full size egg roll wrappers into wonton size squares. The trick here is to not overfill the wrappers. About a tablespoon of filling is all you can easily fit in one of these dumplings. Use your finger to wet two sides of the square before you fold it over and seal the edges. Try to squish out as much of the air as you can before you seal them completely. Store them covered with a towel until you are ready to cook (unless you’ve got two people working in tandem to fill and cook).
Now, I am sure that my potsticker cooking method is not traditional, but it works for me and they taste good. Feel free to cook them the ‘right’ way instead of my way. Heat a large skillet over high heat until it is hot. Do not use a non-stick skillet for this. Do use a skillet with a tight fitting lid. Brush the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of oil and place 6-8 dumplings in the pan. Don’t over crowd your pan.
Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom sticks to the pan and is a nice golden brown. I pried one off the bottom of the pan so you could see what it looks like.
Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, place the lid on, turn the heat off and walk away for a minute or two. Just FYI, trying to snap a picture of this step is almost impossible and will most likely result in a nasty steam burn. You’ve been warned. However, when the water has evaporated, you should have nice, glossy dumplings waiting for you.
Remove this batch to a plate, reheat your skillet and start again. Resist the urge to eat each batch as they come out or your family will wonder why you aren’t eating your dinner.
Serve dumplings alongside a hearty scoop of veggie fried rice (I make mine with brown rice) and enjoy.
1 pound Andouille sausage
1 pint white button mushrooms
1 package wonton wrappers
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Dice sausage into small pieces (about 1/8″ cubes). Add sausage to hot skillet stirring occasionally. While sausage begins cooking, dice mushrooms into similar sized pieces. Add all the mushrooms to the skillet at the same time. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are cooked down and everything is brown. Remove from heat and cool.
Take one wonton wrapper and place it in front of you. Keep the rest of the package covered with a towel to keep them from drying out. Place about a tablespoon of cooled filling just off center on the wonton wrapper. Dip your fingertips in water and run along two of the straight sides (or around half the circle if using round wrappers). Fold wrapper over and press firmly to seal edges. Try to press out as much of the air around the filling as possible. Place on a covered tray and repeat until you run out of filling or wrappers (or until you get tired of making dumplings).
Place a skillet over high heat (not a non-stick skillet). When skillet is hot, brush the bottom with oil and place 6-8 dumplings in the hot skillet and cook for about 2 minutes – until the dumplings stick to the pan and are golden brown. Pour about 1/4 cup water into the hot skillet and immediately cover with a lid. Let the dumplings steam for 1-2 minutes. Remove dumplings. Reheat skillet and repeat until all dumplings are cooked. Serve as an appetizer or with fried rice for a main dish.