Sunday, September 11, 2005

Stuffed bell peppers in tomato sauce

My SO has always liked stuffed bell peppers, and for years we just made the standard Joy of Cooking stuffed bell pepper recipe. However, my SO's immigrant grandmother used to make stuffed bell peppers in a sweetened tomato sauce, so we decided to try making them the old-fashioned way.

We first tried this in July, and then made it for my SO's mother two weekends ago. This was going to be last weekend's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post, but it didn't feel right to post a recipe while I was posting about Katrina, so now it's this week's recipe.

5-6 whole bell peppers (any color)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed with a garlic press
2 tablespoons paprika
2 cups of cooked rice
2 28oz cans whole tomatoes in juice (salted)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sugar

0. If you don't already have cooked rice on hand, cook some rice.
1. Prepare the peppers for stuffing: cut off the top of the peppers, and then scoop out the seeds and ribs from inside the fruit. Rinsing the insides of the peppers with water can help remove any stray seeds.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and then add the turkey, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the turkey is browned.
3. Add the paprika towards the end of the turkey browning, and cook for a minute or two.
4. In a large bowl combine the turkey mixture with the rice, two chopped tomatoes (from the can of whole tomatoes), eggs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
5. Spoon the mixture into the peppers.
6. Puree the remaining tomatoes (with juice) and add the sugar.
7. Pour the tomato puree into a large, heavy-bottomed (preferably nonstick) pot, set the peppers upright into the sauce, spoon some sauce on top of the peppers, and heat to a simmer. Don't worry if some of the peppers fall over.
8. Simmer until the filling is cooked and the peppers are soft, stirring the sauce occasionally. We simmer the pot covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for another 30 minutes, and then check the consistency of the sauce. Simmering the dish for additional time shouldn't hurt anything.

An alternate to using canned whole tomatoes is to use three 14 oz cans of tomato sauce for the sauce, and then chop two whole fresh tomatoes for the filling.

The first time we made this, we didn't stir the sauce and it burned on the bottom of the pot. However, we served only the sauce from the top portion of the pot, leaving the burned sauce on the bottom, and it was still delicious. Stirring the pot gently every once in a while and using a good, heavy-bottomed pot help prevent burning.

My SO's mother reported that her mother used to make the sauce much sweeter than we did, so feel free to pour in all the sugar you want.

This recipe's filling has been heavily modified from a recipe in Rombauer et al. (1997).

Rombauer, I. S., M. R. Becker, and E. Becker. 1997. Joy of Cooking. Scribner, NY.

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