Wednesday, March 2, 2011
These stuffed bell peppers were made with the batch of peppers that I froze back in October. Turns out, frozen bell peppers make excellent stuffed peppers, in case you were wondering.
I had read that you could bake them from frozen, but mine had some ice crystals that I wanted to remove, so I rinsed them under tepid water until they were pretty much thawed and all the ice came off. Before I added the filling I made sure I had dried them off really well with paper towels.
Are you wondering why my peppers had ice crystals on them? Well, funny story. I was rearranging some appliances in the kitchen, which required the unplugging and rearranging of cords. Turns out, I forgot to plug the chest freezer back in! I didn't notice until two days later when I opened it up to take out some ground beef. Luckily, the three tightly packed boxes of beef were still frozen solid. The peppers were near the top and sitting in a basket by themselves so they had thawed a bit. I'm so glad I opened it when I did; what a huge loss that would have been if the beef had gone bad! It made me jealous of the freezers in my lab; they have an alarm that sounds if the temperature gets too high.
Anyway, there are lots of different recipes for stuffed bell peppers. We liked this one a lot. About a year ago I made a vegetarian version that was really good as well. They are nice because you basically just assemble and bake. We made the full recipe for the filling, but we actually only had two bell peppers left in the freezer, so we baked the extra filling in a couple of small oval baking dishes on the same tray with the peppers. It made awesome burrito filling for other meals later in the week!
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Rice and Ground Beef
adapted from Cooking Light - August 2006
serves 4 (2 pepper halves per person)
Notes: The recipe calls for 1/3 pound ground turkey and 2/3 pound ground sirloin. I didn't want to buy a package of ground turkey just to use 1/3 of it, so I just used all ground sirloin. You could use all ground turkey instead too if you wanted (or get wild and crazy and try ground buffalo!).
4 large green bell peppers (or any color)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds if you don't want it very spicy)
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice (such as jasmine)
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (we just used homemade, which I'm guessing is not fat-free)
2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground meat, such as sirloin, turkey, buffalo, or a combination
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Wash peppers and pat dry. Cut in half length-wise, discard seeds and white membranes. Try to leave the stems intact if possible (it makes a nice presentation, but other than that I don't think it matters). Place the peppers on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan, cut side up.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, or until the onion is lightly browned. Add the rice and cook for another two minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Next, add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. It's frustrating to have to wait, but if you add it to the rest of the ingredients when it's still hot you might scramble the egg, and that's not what you want.
In a large bowl, add 1 cup of the tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of the cheese, the black pepper, the egg, and the meat. When the rice mixture is cool enough, add it to the bowl, and gently stir the mixture together with a spatula until well blended. Spoon about 1/2 cup of this filling into each of the pepper halves. Pour the remaining 1 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the peppers.
Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese, then bake uncovered for another 3 minutes or so until the cheese melts.