Text and Photos by Harald Zoschke
Another one from my new & exciting series “Harald grills everything but his Mom.”
You may (or may not) have heard of Turducken. That’s a somewhat unusual dish from the Southern U.S., consisting of a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is in turn stuffed into a turkey. Hence the name, constructed from TURkey, DUCK and chickEN. This inspired me to stuff a chile with a chile with a chile with a chile… whatever my plantation has to offer in matching sizes. In honor of the famous Turducken I named it…. Childucken!
This was an experiment…. an experiment that went quite well, I have to say. In short: I selected pepper pods from seven varieties that should fit into each other, plus some stuffing like cheese, prosciutto and herbs. Why seven? First, that’s my lucky number, and second: why not?
So Step 1 is to select matching pepper pods. From left to right, I picked Italian Corno, Friggitello, Jalapeño, Lunchbox, Stromboli, Calabrian Diavolicchio, and a tiny Chinese Ornamental.
Step 2: Remove the inner walls, placenta and seeds of the peppers. While for peppers like jalapeños and larger an apple corer proves helpful, the tiny ones are best emptied with slim nail scissors. Make sure the pods fit well into each other. In case of misfits, back to the pepper garden, picking alternative pods. Also, except for the tiniest ones, there should be room for some cheese, prosciutto and herbs.
Step 3: Start with the smallest pepper, plugging it one into the next larger one. For the bigger ones, wrap with thin slices of Italian ham (Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele) in tighter spaces, or a slice of cheese (for example Cheddar or Emmentaler) when there’s enough room. It helps if the cheese is at room temperature, therefore soft and flexible. Add some fresh herbs, too (I used rosemary needles – tasty, and easy to plug in).
Step 4: The biggest Pepper pod may need a little help. I blanched it in boiling water for two minutes, then cooled it down by rinsing under cold water. Then you can apply a T-cut close to the calyx to carefully remove the innards. Put a layer of cheese on the bottom, followed by a slice of ham. Next, insert your chile-in-a-chile-in-a-chile pack and put some ham and cheese on top (just enough that you can still close the pod easily).
Step 5: Wrap the whole thing tightly with thinly sliced bacon.
Step 6: Prepare the barbecue for indirect, medium-heat covered grilling. A dripping pan helps to catch fat melting from the bacon.
Step 7: Grill the “Childucken” for about 35 minutes. Then brush it with a sweet & smoky barbecue sauce, close the lid again and give it another 10 minutes, or whatever it takes that the bacon outside is crispy, and the pod feels soft, i.e. the inner part is done (actual time will vary with Childucken size and grill temperature). Jalapeños should stay a little crunchy.
Step 8: Enjoy the various layers and levels of flavor and heat of this juicy and tasty beast!
Here’s how it looks inside… yummy!
And here’s what’s left over… need to say more?
Now rush to your pepper patch, find some pods that fit well into each other, fire up the barbie, and have some fun with Childucken! We’d love to see some pictures of your creations!