“This is an amazing dish, and you will want more and more—make, bake, and serve with a nice bottle of Chianti wine,” says Chad. “This dish was inspired by a recipe from our grandfather, Nick Riccelli’s, recipe box. Grandma Theresa Ausilio Riccelli speaks often of her late husband’s cooking skills. She said her mother, Rachel Scarcello, taught Nick a lot about cooking, and especially recipes with the family pepper. Nick enjoyed spending lots of time with Rachel to become skilled preparing and cooking her family recipes. For measurements, she put a handful, fingerful, or pinch of spices or ingredients in her palm and put them into his versus using a measuring cup.”
Serves about 6
Preheat oven to 420° F.
While oven is warming up, mix all the ingredients except the peppers together in large bowl. Pick six to eight ‘Ausilio Thin Skin Italian’ peppers from the garden and wipe them off with dry and/or lightly dampen cloth. If you do not want them to taste especially spiced, rinse them with water thoroughly. Remove seeds from peppers and stuff with pork mix. Place in square dish. (Our family likes to add diced potatoes in medium size pieces prior to baking.)
Cover with your favorite sauce, and feel free to use a homemade sauce which includes the ‘Ausilio Thin Skin’ peppers as well. Once oven is ready, place dish in oven for 30 minutes. After a half hour, pull dish out and add chunks of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil as a finishing touch. Bake another 15 minutes or until pork is done (total baking time is some 45 minutes).
This Italian family heirloom pepper was donated to Seed Savers Exchange in 2015 by Chad and Michele Ogle-Riccelli of Des Moines, Iowa. Chad’s great-grandparents, Giovanni “John” Ausilio and Rachel P. Scarcello, immigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. Their daughter Theresa continues to grow the pepper, which today is at the center of the family’s culinary traditions.
When asked why the family chose to preserve this pepper and save seeds form year to year, Chad says, “As Grandma (Theresa Ausilio Riccelli) would tell you, they are her family seeds. Something that special, you love and pass on for generations to come…These peppers are part of our heritage.”