STUFFED RED BELL PEPPERS
Pick a pepper: I fondly remember having stuffed bell peppers when I was a youth. I don’t remember how often we had them but do remember what I liked about them. It was the ground meat. I was then and still am a meat lover. Bring on the meat because I’ll be eating the meat. Most of the time they were green bell peppers, stuffed with ground meat, maybe rice, vegetables and I guess whatever was left around. Baked and sometimes topped with cheddar cheese. In fact I don’t think I saw a red bell pepper until I was an adult. Did they exist in the 60’s?
What I remember liking about stuffed peppers, I remember what I didn’t like. It was the soggy pepper that often would be sitting in a pool of liquid. Sometimes a little bitter and often left behind with the “guts” scraped out. We used to tell mom, “hey, can’t we just have the meat without the pepper?” Okay, I think I solved the soggy pepper problem. Hey, don’t cook them for an hour.
I think originally, stuffed peppers were invented as a way to dispose of leftovers. Initially, I promised to offer up, so, keeping in spirit I used some of the leftover tri tip I encouraged you all to buy (and grind), that great ground sirloin that was on sale (if you got the butcher to help). This is an easy recipe and doesn’t take much time or technique. If you want to taste your vegetables under cook them a bit. Many recipes include rice for filler (back to my leftover theory), but if there’s rice there’s less room for meat so you know where I’m headed.
- 4 Large red bell peppers
- 2 Tablespoons of EVOO
- 3 lbs lean ground beef.
- 3 celery ribs, fine dice
- 2 carrots fine dice
- 1 large onion fine dice
- 3 cloves of fresh minced garlic
- 1 and ½ cup grated cheddar cheese divided
- 2 Tablespoons Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups diced tomato
Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the peppers in half along the equator and remove the stem, seeds and vein. Cut each half as uniform in height as possible. Next, brown the beef, drain, and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the tomato and the beef back to the skillet and stir. Cool and add the cheese careful not to melt. Put the peppers in a baking dish and fill each pepper equally with the mixture until all the mixture is used. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and with a spatula and put one or 2 stuffed peppers on each plate. Be careful not to burn your mouth as you may try to eat the peppers too soon! I served this dish with a cucumber and Kalamata olive salad.
Tips: Try chopped roasted green chilies in the mixture. Add a strip of green chili on top of the pepper just under the cheese. Add a fried egg on top of each pepper. Yes, if you want to add leftover rice to the mixture, that’s okay. Add up to 2 cups of cooked rice as filler. Try different cheeses. I used white cheddar. Try smoked or hard cheeses. Add some fresh parsley or dill. Tight Lines!