Posts Tagged ‘stuffed peppers’

From the farmers market – act three – stuffed sweet peppers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

After using them in salads, and roasting, and stewing them, I was still left with several colorful peppers from my last trip to the farmers market at Lincoln Square. With only a day until my next expedition I had to utilize the leftovers, and stuffing them sounded like a good idea. This is also the only way my kids will touch them, so stuffed peppers it was. This dish is a regular feature in my mother’s kitchen and though it may be a little old fashioned, I love cooking them. Like vegetable casserole, stuffed peppers are even better the next day, when the juices from the meat and the peppers have time to mingle. The same goes for stuffed grape or cabbage leaves.

stuffed_peppers

I mostly use a mix of beef and pork minced meat, but if you are porkophobe go just for the cow. I’ve made them with chicken breast, but that never really worked for me – too dry, too flat. The meat choice is important. I use lean beef without antibiotics and hormones from Trader Joe’s and fresh rosy pork mince from the corner Polish deli (Poles really know their pork). If you have a butcher nearby where you can have the meat minced to order that’s the best deal. I would go for a pork shoulder and beef roast. The shoulder has just the right amount of marbled fat to make the stuffing tasty and juicy and you don’t need to use a lot of oil.

The tomatoes add an extra acidity to the whole mix and the carrot – sweetness. You can play with the spices – for a more Middle Eastern experience you can add ¼ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp powdered cumin seeds. You can substitute cilantro (coriander) for the flat Italian parsley or fresh thyme for the dried sage. As for the rice – don’t worry that there is no extra water added to the stuffing – it will cook just fine soaking up the meat and tomato juices.

The stuffing will also work for stuffing tomatoes, zucchini or eggplants. Sometimes I mix my vegetables for a more dramatic effect.

The stuffed peppers I made today were supposed to last until tomorrow. They didn’t. Next time I should plan better and make more than 12!

Stuffed sweet peppers

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ cup jasmine rice (or any white long grain rice)
  • 1 pound minced lean beef
  • 1 pound minced pork
  • 2 big plum tomatoes, cut in half and the flesh grated (or 4-6 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • ½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika (or regular sweet paprika)
  • salt, black pepper
  • 1 handful flat Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 big plum tomato, flesh grated (optional)
  • 8 bell peppers or 12 long sweet banana or Mediterranean peppers, the tops cut and deseeded

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a big frying pan and saute the onion, garlic and carrot for 4-5 minutes. Add rice and stir for a minute. Add the minced meat, season with salt and pepper, the sage and smoked paprika, and cook for a few minutes mixing well and breaking up the meat lumps that will form. When the meat starts to brown, add the grated tomatoes and cook until juices reduce by half, another 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat, check the seasoning and add the parsley.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C), with the rack positioned in the middle. Sprinkle the insides of the cleaned peppers with some salt and spoon in the stuffing, carefully forcing it in if using the long variety (I use the spoon handle to push the meat mix to the end). Place them tightly in a broad baking pan, big enough to hold the peppers. They don’t need extra space in between as they’ll shrink a little during the cooking. Pour the water on the bottom, sprinkle with salt and the second tbsp olive oil, cover loosely with heavy duty aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes or until the peppers are soft and slightly browned. Turn off the oven, cover with the foil again and leave in for 15-20 minutes before serving. You can spoon some thick Greek style yogurt on the plate and dig in.


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