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Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Cook-a-long -- Stuffed Peppers

About three times a year, I make stuffed peppers for Trevor and the guys that work with Trevor.  I invariably get asked if I would be able to teach their wives/girlfriends how to make them.  Here's how I make stuffed peppers.  It is loosely based on the recipe from the red-checkered Betty Crocker Cookbook found in the 'beans, rice, & grains' portion (BCC).  (Please note:  I was making a triple batch of stuffed peppers, so the pictures may be a bit deceiving.  The recipe below is for 6 stuffed peppers.)

Jeanne's Stuffed Peppers
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. hamburger
  • Small onion (or half of a larger onion) diced
  • 1 quart chili sauce or spaghetti sauce--I use our home canned sauce--BCC has directions for using grocery store canned goods
  • 2/3 cup UNCOOKED rice
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese--the stuff in the green can--I've never tried using fresh...
  • 2 cups shredded cheese--I use whatever I have on hand that needs to be used up.  Today I used 1 cup Mozzarella and 1 cup mild cheddar.  I've even just dumped in little bits left in the bottom of several bags of cheese.  A little more/less cheese is okay.
  • 6 pieces of sliced American Cheese
  • 6 nice green peppers
1) Brown the hamburger and onions.  Season as desired.  I put a nice coat of garlic powder, onion powder, season salt and a bit of pepper.  Whatever you usually like will work.

2) While the hamburger is browning:
  • Start a large pot (Dutch Oven works best) of water.  Add 1 Tbsp. of salt to the water and bring to a boil. 
  • Clean the peppers.  Cut off the top--I cut them like a pumpkin that is going to made into a jack-o-lantern...It leaves you with pepper 'bowls'.  Clean out all of the seeds and any soft white flesh from the inside of the pepper that easily comes out.
  • Don't forget to occasionally stir and break up the hamburger while waiting for the water to boil.

This picture is showing 2 things --
1)  How to cut the peppers
2) How to put the peppers into a pan before stuffing them
3)  Once the hamburger is cooked, drain the grease (if desired).  I drain the grease if it is really greasy, but if it isn't too bad, I don't drain off the grease because a reasonable amount of grease does enhance the flavor.  Too much grease, however, is just gross.

4)  In the skillet with the hamburger, stir in the spaghetti/chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, uncooked rice, and oregano.  It should seem pretty soupy; the rice soaks up a lot of sauce!  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the temperature to a simmering boil and cover.  Stir well every 5 minutes or so.  This will need to cook for 20-25 minutes.  (I have never succeeded in NOT scorching this mixture...apparently a little scorch doesn't hurt the flavor, just don't be surprised/horrified if it scorches a little.  As long as you don't scrape the burnt part into the peppers, it seems to be fine.  : )

5)  While the rice mixture (the innards) are cooking, put the prepared peppers into the boiling water and let them sit in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes.  This will soften the peppers a little bit.  When you take them out of the water (I use tongs) put them on a towel upside down so the water can drain out.

You will want to make sure the whole pepper is getting boiled.
These peppers have been they are just chillin' out...waiting to be stuffed!!
6)  About 3 minutes before rice mixture is done, I add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  Put the peppers into a pan so they are ready to be stuffed  (see the second picture on this post--it is how I stand the peppers up to be stuffed in the pan.  I use a 7x11 pan...If you have a deep pan, it works even better!

7)  When the rice mixture is done, remove from the heat.  Add the shredded cheese.  Mix well.

8)  Carefully spoon the mixture into each pepper.  I like to leave 1/2" to 3/4" gap at the top to prevent spilling.

9)  Once all the peppers are stuffed, place a piece of American cheese on top.  If you don't want a big mess, then I suggest you fold the slice and put entirely inside the pepper opening.  If you just lay the cheese on top of the peppers, it tends to drip down the side and fuse to the bottom of the pan.
10)  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

These reheat well in the microwave.  Also, if you don't want the mess of "stuffing" the peppers, I have just cut the green peppers into rings and put into the mixture.  The flavor is the same, but the presentation is different.  Trevor prefers me to stuff them...for what that opinion is worth to you...

I usually serve stuffed peppers with yeasty rolls or garlic bread.

When I bake, I tend to blast my tunes and sing loudly.  Here is Booger saying, "I wish she would stop singing at me...Please make her stop!"

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, and don't forget to take care of you!

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