CATHI LITZENBERGER; When barbecues go bad


Oh you gotta love these lazy, daisy, crazy days of summer!

Unfortunately, the crazy part was mine last week. One day, I decided to keep the heat out of my house and cook everything on the barbecue. I have a large grill and placed a roaster of stuffed peppers over low heat, later I added a roasterful of chicken legs and drumsticks that I wanted to cook slowly and then finish off with a special sauce directly on the grill. The last thing I added was a foil packet of halibut, prepared in my favourite way; this I placed on the top rack above the chicken, away from the heat — or so I thought.

With 15 people running around, including our 22-month-old granddaughter, all I had on the go was preparing a box of ripe apricots for jam and the dehydrator, while visiting and supplying snacks and beverages for our guests while getting dinner on, so you’d think I shouldn’t be too busy to check my barbecue; but did I? No. The water dried up and the peppers, though dry, were edible so long as their blackened bottoms were cut off. The heat had not been turned down under the chicken, so there were only charcoaled bones in the bottom of the pan and the only chicken salvageable was from the upper portions of the pile, which came off like pulled pork, only edible when mixed with barbecue sauce and served in a bun. Even the roaster had to be tossed. The halibut was so dry it flaked like giant snowflakes into  a dill/lemon sauce just to prevent someone having it caught in their throat and choking to death. I proved to one and all that I’m as good at failures as the next guy, but what a waste of food! I was so humbled.

Today I’m offering a delicious stuffed pepper recipe and a recipe for baby potatoes that is excellent the next day fried, or used in a potato salad with an Italian dressing.

Stuffed Peppers

10 green bell peppers (or use mixed colour)

1 lb. lean ground hamburger

1 lb. ground bacon

2 large onions, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups crushed tomatoes

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

3 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

Wash peppers and cut tops off to use as lids. Remove the seeds and inner membranes; set into a large roasting pan with tops on each pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, brown hamburger, bacon;  add onion and celery and cook until vegetables are softened. Turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper, then add the tomatoes and rice.  Mix well.

Fill each pepper with meat and rice mixture, place lid on top. Add about an inch of water to the roaster. Cook, covered, at 350F for about 1-1/2 hours. Test after one hour for liquid and to see if rice is done and peppers are cooked.

Baby New Potatoes

3-4 lbs. baby new potatoes, washed

1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 tbsp. butter, softened

1/4 cup Miracle Whip

1/4 cup sliced green onion or chives, packed

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Steam or boil potatoes (in a little water) until just tender. Drain thoroughly. Add salt and butter to Miracle Whip; then add to potatoes and mix to coat evenly. Add green onion and dill and coat evenly.

Serve as is or place potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and brown in a hot oven at 425 F, shaking occasionally until golden.

Cathi Litzenberger has been food columnist at The Morning Star for more than 10 years.