Cook the barley ‘al dente’ according to the instructions on the package. Prep the rest of the ingredients while the barley is cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the top quarter of each of the peppers, including the stems and all the seeds inside to leave a completely hollow pepper. Slice off a flat bottom as needed to get the pepper to stand on its own.* Place the peppers open side up in a shallow greased baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. When the olive oil is hot, sauté the onions, mushroomsand carrots and sauté for 2-3 minutes before adding the diced tomato.
Next add the ground bison to the skillet and stir into the sauteed veggies. When the bison is just beginning to brown, stir in the cooked barley.
Then stir in the minced garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder, spicy harissa and fresh cilantro. Continue to cook until the bison is browned and the vegetables are tender – about 8-10 minutes. Cool the bison mixture for 10 minutes or until it is no longer steaming.**
When the bison mixture is no longer steaming hot, stir in the crumbled queso fresco, shredded mozzarella, and egg. Stir until the egg is completely combined.
Spoon the bison mixture into the peppers until the peppers are full and the mixture is heaped on top. Cover generously with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the peppers are cooked through.
Rest for 10 minutes prior to serving to fully set the bison mixture in the middle. Serve with additional topping of cotija, mozzarella and sour cream. Enjoy!
*NOTE: Pick peppers with four ‘points’ on the bottom for the best free-standing peppers!
**NOTE: It is important to wait until the bison mixture is not steaming hot in order to not instantly cook the egg when it is added.