Thursday, September 30, 2010

Double Take: Stuffed Peppers

When I was little, I remember my mom occasionally made stuffed peppers as side for supper. I remember they had beef in them, and lots of other items but I have no idea what. I do remember that I really liked them and was excited when they showed up on the table. When I asked my dad about them, he remembers that the stuffed peppers were stuffed with either a meatloaf type mixture and that his mamaw made them as a way to use up leftovers. (The shocking part to me is the existence of leftovers when she had 12 kids! Oy.) My mamaw said sometimes it was a meatloaf mixture inside and others could be a mixture in mashed potatoes. All these variations made me curious. As a results, you can expect to see some variations of stuffed peppers in upcoming posts. This week, Mel and I decided to show you a couple types of stuffed peppers that we tried. Our recipes were selected separately so be sure to stop by Mel's blog to see which variation she tested.


 

For my selection, I wasn't sure what I was looking for in terms of flavor. After flipping through some recipes that failed to excite me, I cam across a sort of Italian flavored stuffed pepper. I couldn't help but modify it a little.

Italian Style Stuffed Pepper (adapted from All Recipes post )

4 bell peppers
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (I used Greek extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 c. cooked jasmine rice (just use whatever rice you like)

1. First make the rice and let it cool. I say this mainly for those like me who start the recipe and on occasion (due to excitement, hunger, what have you) might not notice the rice needs to be cooked ahead of time. I make rice with half the amount of final rice measured and 3 times the amount of water as measured rice. Make it whatever way works for you.

2. Cut the tops off of all the peppers. Then remove the seeds and whitish membranes. Chop up the edible parts of the tops and place in a bowl with the chopped onions. Rinse the peppers under cold water. Place them in a pot and cover them with salted water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer (while covered) for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the peppers, dumping the water out of each before lifting them from the pot to prevent them from tearing. (I recommend using tongs.) Set the peppers aside for later.


3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet on medium heat until hot. (Why both kinds of fat? Butter gives a nice flavor but olive oil can handle a higher temperature. This way you get the benefit of the flavor and the oil remains longer for the cooking process.) Toss in the chopped green pepper and celery and saute for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. In a mixing bowl, combine egg with the other 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and add ground beef, cooked rice and 1 c. of the tomato mixture. Mix well. Fill the peppers with the meat blend and set the peppers into an 8x8 baking dish. Pour the rest of the tomato mixture over and around the peppers. Bake at 350 F for about an hour.




My Reaction: The Italian flavor was more pronounced than I expected. It was like eating somewhat of a lasagna flavor with textures of rice, beef, and pepper. The presence of the pepper components in contrast to pasta was surprising but good. I tried melting a little cheese on top of one pepper but it didn't do anything for it. If you'd like a good Italianesque pepper, I'd recommend giving this one a try.




After eating it, I found myself wanting a spicy stuffed pepper with a more Tex-Mex Southwester flavor. My next pepper will definitely be spiced up a bit. :) Don't forget to see how Mel's peppers turned out.

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