Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stuffed Green Peppers, in the crockpot

Our garden is producing all kinds of peppers right now - I used the skinny ones to make breakfast burritos for my hubby and made stuffed green peppers for our family.

Our ancestry is German. I plan on telling that to the kids when we eat it for dinner. I'm sure that won't matter - now if I told my oldest that this is what they eat in China (she is obsessed with China) she would probably gobble them up! I disliked these when I was a kid, but was secretly amused that you used the pepper as a "bowl" for the meat. Now each year, I have to get my late-summer fix of these things. No one else around here does, lol.

My mom used to always make them in the oven. I avoid using my oven whenever possible. I have made them in the microwave too... This year I decided to try the crockpot since it seems like this would be the perfect recipe to do in the crock.

This is my mom's recipe, from who-knows-where, but she likes things mild(she never ate the peppers and probably omitted the onion), so I'm sure you could add some oregano or something and it will be even tastier. I gut the peppers, removing all the seeds, but I think they add more spice, so chop up the guts and add them to the meat if you like...I think :) )

Stuffed Green Peppers

6 green bell peppers
1 pound LEAN ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use brown minute rice)
2 T. of chopped onions
1 small can of tomato soup (I used tomato sauce - about 5-6 oz - but you could use ketchup or paste too)
1/2 c. water (1/4 c. for in crock)
dash of salt and pepper
cheese for top

Cut tops off of peppers, about 3/4 inch from top, remove insides. Spray sides of baking dish with cooking spray for easier cleanup. Place peppers in crock or baking dish, removing tops and laying them in the same order as in the dish (makes matching easier later). You can ball up foil or use toothpicks to help them stand up better if you need to.

Fill full with beef mixture. If you have a little extra meat, just put in in a ball in the pan next to the peppers... it'll be fine. Replace tops and cook (directions below). When cooking is completed, add some cheese to top of beef and replace tops, serve hot.

Be careful removing pan from oven or microwave - there will be lots of juices! You may want to pierce the lower side of the pepper first to allow juices to run out a few minutes before removing from the pan. And remove carefully because the peppers will be fragile.

"Pressure-cook for 10 minutes" --Huh?! Hmm. I guess Mom pressure-cooked these... what a versatile recipe! I'm sure in the oven you'd just cook at 350 for about 45 min?

Cook on high in crockpot for about 4 hours...

My microwave instructions:

Place peppers in microwave roaster pan (or just a microwave-safe baking dish), using toothpicks to prop up if necessary. Cover with wax paper or use roaster cover, loosely. Cook on "High" for 13-17 minutes, rearranging after 1/2 of cooking time.

The verdict:

Kids resisted them, I'm not sure if they really ate much. I let them pick the "vegetable"... they picked corn. I used 80% lean beef which is usually much higher fat content than I'm used to. I'd use a max of 85% lean next time. The beef always comes out moist, so you could use any lean meat (even venison, I bet). Its like a real most, peppery meatloaf. My garden peppers were not as sweet as store-bought bell peppers, but I'm sure they have much fewer chemicals on them. I didn't use any type of fertilizer or soil augmentation, so I'll do some research and see if I can get sweeter ones next year. I have about 4-6 more bell peppers growing on my plants so I'll probably make another batch for the freezer when those are ready.

A few tweaks I'll take note of... It needed a bit more tomato flavor, so I'd probably use "paste" next time or a larger can of sauce and omit the water. I think this would be tasty with about a 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes. Cooking time probably could have been 2-3 hours. I'm not that experienced with the crock to know how long it takes to cook a 2 inch ball of meat stuffed inside a pepper.

Thanks for reading!

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