Saturday, September 24, 2011


Bell peppers for stuffing.

Peppers are coming fast and furious. Last week I was frying the thin green ones (read about frying peppers here). This week I’m stuffing big fat red bell peppers that are rampant in the garden.

Bell peppers ripen in the garden.
I used to love my Missouri grandmother’s stuffed peppers. She used ground beef and rice and braised the peppers very slowly in the oven. But in southern Spain, I’m still not ready to turn on the oven. So I prepare the peppers Spanish style, cooked on top of the stove.

But I make some adjustments here too. Spanish cooks almost always roast the peppers first, peel them, then stuff them. But without their skins, the peppers don’t sit up smart in the pan. So I skip that step.

End-of-season tomatoes are perfect for making a chunky sauce to cook with the peppers, but canned tomatoes can be substituted. I like ground pork for the stuffing, but you could use ground beef or chicken thighs instead.

Another sort of stuffed pepper is the piquillo. You will find more about piquillo peppers and a recipe here.

Stuffed Peppers with Chunky Tomato Sauce
Pimientos Rellenos con Salsa de Tomate

Serves 4.

4 large bell peppers, green and/or red (1 pound 10 ounces)
2 ½ pounds tomatoes (about 6)
2 thick slices of bread
Milk or water to soak the bread
1 egg, beaten
1 onion, ¼ cup minced and 1 cup chopped
3 cloves garlic, 1 clove minced and 2 cloves chopped
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 pound ground pork
¼ cup chopped serrano ham or pancetta
1 tablespoon flour
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Remove stems and seeds from peppers.  Bring a large pan of water to a boil and blanch tomatoes until the skins split, about 1 minute. Drain and let them cool, then peel the tomatoes. Cut them into wedges or small chunks.

Soak the bread until softened in milk or water. Squeeze out the liquid and discard. Crumble the bread into a mixing bowl.

Remove 1 tablespoon of beaten egg and reserve it in a saucer. Add the remaining egg to the bread. Add the minced onion and minced garlic. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and parsley. Add the ground meat and chopped ham. Combine the mixture well. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.

Dip the open ends of the peppers in the reserved beaten egg, then into the flour.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet. Fry the peppers, floured-side down. Add the chopped onion and garlic and turn the peppers to let them fry slowly on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover the skillet, and simmer 45 minutes, turning the peppers occasionally. Remove the lid and cook another 20 minutes, until pepper skins are shriveled and tomato sauce is reduced.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over them.

Peppers stuffed with pork with chunky tomato sauce.

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