Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed green peppers are Midwestern comfort food. Hubby remembers his step-mom Mary's with great fondness.  My mom (also a Mary!) used to make them, and I remember protesting at the peppers but ultimately enjoying them. The basic formula is green bell peppers stuffed with a rice, hamburger, and tomato sauce mix.  Since I haven't tried to make them since the early 90's I'm working from Mary Lanam's recipe and one from Allrecipes.  That, and I'm punting with the potential ingredients we have in the house.

Here's Mary's recipe:

Here's what I ended up doing:
Stuffed Peppers
6 large green bell peppers
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup rice
1 can Hunt's Onion and Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Cook the rice according to package directions.  Brown the meats together with the onion and drain off the fat.

Cut the tops off the peppers (save the tops!) and clean out the seeds and membranes. Make sure the peppers will stand up in whatever pan you use, even if you have to shave a little off the bottom.

Mix together the meats, rice, and half the spaghetti sauce. Stuff the peppers.  Top with the remaining sauce and replace the pepper tops.  Put them in a shallow baking dish (I used bread pans).  Bake at 400° for 45 minutes.  Remove the pepper top lids and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on the peppers.  Bake an additional 10 minutes.

So here's a couple of things that might come up when discussing making stuffed peppers, and what I learned:

Do you blanche the peppers before stuffing?  Some recipes say to; Mom says if you do so the peppers are less likely to be bitter, but they are harder to stuff.  If you want to pre-cook them Mom recommends the microwave.

Do you cook the stuffing before stuffing or not?  Many older recipes have you stuff the peppers with uncooked meat and rice and cook it twice as long; I cooked up the stuffing before hand and thought it was fine, and I didn't have to worry about raw meat hitting a safe temperature.

Do you baste the peppers?  Some recipes say to baste the peppers with more sauce every 15 minutes to keep the peppers from drying out.  Here's where Mary's tip to save and use the pepper "lids" comes in.  Our peppers were so juicy one squirted Jack in the eye, and the stuffing was not dry at all.  You don't need to add water to the pan to steam the peppers for the same reason.

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