Sunday, January 23, 2011

RECIPE: Stuffed Green Peppers

Brrr! It’s been an extra a cold winter here in the Marsh! There’s been lot’s of fun in the snow, but lots of work as well keeping the paths shoveled and the walks clear. 

After a day out in the crisp, cold air, there’s nothing like coming home to a hot supper. In the winter, we often forgo the table and bring our supper into the living room where we eat snuggled up in our cozy chairs which we pull close to a crackling fie in the big hearth. There’s many good recipes for days like this: roast beef with carrots, potatoes and gravy; chili con carne and cheesy garlic bread; a hearty stew with lots of chunky vegetables; a nice beef barley soup; and perhaps Henrietta's personal favorite - stuffed peppers! For desert a warm apple crisp with a dollop of whipped cream or even a slosh of cold table cream on top. All reasons why we don’t mind winter one bit!

Here is Henrietta's recipe for the stuffed peppers. It's been simplified with items you can get from your local grocery store as many of our little friends don’t have gardens like ours and so may not have items like their own canned tomatoes on hand. Of course Henrietta usually makes several batches of stuffed peppers when the peppers are in season can be picked that day as this recipe freezes quite well to be defrosted and cooked later, but there’s nothing wrong with making them the same day with some lovely peppers flown into your grocers from a warmer climate.

What you 'll need: 
  • Six  medium-sized fresh green peppers
  • Half a cup of chopped Spanish onion
  • Half a cup of uncooked long grain rice
  • One teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce
  • One and a half cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
  • One pound of ground beef
  • Two cups of tomato preserves (a sixteen ounce can of stewed or diced tomatoes works fine)
  • One teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Half a cup of water
  • Two cups of seasoned croutons

How to make them:
  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and add half of the teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve. Set the pot on a hot burner to bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the stemmed tops of the peppers much like you would a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out any seeds and membrane left in the peppers and wash the insides and out under cold running water.
  3. Drop the peppers carefully into the boiling pot of salted water and cook for no more than five minutes. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, fish the peppers out of the boiling water one by one and let sit upside down on a cooling rack placed over your sink to drain and cool a bit. You won’t need the stockpot of water again so feel free to drain it and set it aside.
  4. In a large, trustworthy skillet brown the ground beef and onions over medium heat. Add the remaining half teaspoon of salt, the dash of pepper, the canned tomatoes (complete with juice), the rice, the water and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything together well and then let simmer for fifteen minutes, covered.
  5. Turn off the heat and uncover your mixture. Stir in half a cup of the cheese just until incorporated. Now it’s time to put it all together!
  6. Place your drained peppers bottom side down in a high-walled baking dish (I’ve found soufflĂ© dishes or casseroles are wonderful for this recipe). Stuff each pepper with the beef mixture just until full. Top each pepper with croutons and shredded cheese. At this point you can let the casseroles cool and then take them to your freezer to await a cold day to be used, or you can bake them in a three-hundred-and-fifty degree oven for twenty minutes and serve them right away. 

Sometimes for an extra treat, Henrietta sprinkles a bit more cheese on them just as they come out of the over for a wonderfully stringy and gooey topping!