Beef Casseroles Meat Vegetables

Colorful Stuffed Peppers

Colorful, because he won’t eat a green pepper and I prefer them.

The main thing to remember about meat-stuffed peppers is that you’re not making meatloaf. You don’t need egg or breadcrumb binders. The meat filling should be lightly stuffed into the pepper shells, not packed in tightly.  I think some people actually cook the filling first, so that would be really loose, more like a meat sauce or like the meat filling in a taco.

There are two other issues that arise in filling peppers: (1) rice or no rice, and (2) whether or not to parboil the peppers.

Isn’t rice in the filling a kind of binding ingredient? Yes, probably, but it still doesn’t give it that meatloaf texture. I can’t imagine stuffed peppers without rice, because that’s how my mother always made them. Of course she used Minute Rice®, so it didn’t need to be pre-cooked; it cooked while in the filling and poked out all over like a porcupine, just as in porcupine meatballs. I use whole grain brown rice and pre-cook it, which also means I don’t need to cook a starchy side dish with the meal. Grated zucchini would make a nice rice substitute in the filling.

As for parboiling, I think you really must do that, just for 3-5 minutes to take off that rawness, not to get it to a soft, floppy stage. I have tried it without par-boiling and those darned peppers can still come out bitter and a little crunchy.

This is another of those construction dishes that can be done quickly, if you have pre-cooked a few things earlier or the day before:

  1. Pre-cook the rice. I cooked 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water. I only used 1.5 cups of the cooled cooked rice in the meat mixture.
  2. If making your own tomato sauce, make it in advance, simmering for about 30 minutes.
  3. Par-boil the peppers.
  4. Sweat the onions that you will add to the meat mixture, cooling them after.

All these can be done earlier and refrigerated.

Colorful Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 8 half peppers
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°

Sauce:

1 28 oz can peeled whole or crushed tomatoes

1 6 oz can tomato paste

3-4 oz water

1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Set aside to cool while preparing the peppers or refrigerate.

4 large bell peppers in all colors, halved, seeded, and parboiled for 3-5 minutes

Filling:

1 lb ground beef chuck

1 lb ground veal

1 medium onion, diced and lightly cooked in olive oil, cooled

1.5 cups cooked brown rice, cooled

2 teaspoons minced or grated garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix the filling ingredients in a large bowl—the rice and onions should be cool enough to not start cooking the meat.
  2. Arrange the peppers in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish over about 2 cups of sauce.
  3. Lightly fill the peppers without packing in the meat filling. You can pile the meat as high as the baking dish will allow. I had a little meat left over and made three meatballs that I placed between the peppers.
  4. Pour the remaining sauce around the peppers and a little on top of each pepper. I prefer that the sauce come only to the top of each cut pepper, not over the top.
  5. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Uncover and sprinkle with about 1 cup of grated or shredded Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes or until cheese browns.
  7. Try to spoon off as much fat as you can before serving.

I roasted zucchini and more parmesan in a dish alongside the peppers for a side. It’s a great pairing.

 

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