Of all the recipes I made for The Gastronomer's 2008 Christmas present, these bell peppers may have been her favorite. She frequently requests that I make them again, and once when I was out of town she ate them for four meals straight. The original appeal for me was the apparent intricacy of stuffing meat inside a vegetable, but in fact they're a classic American dish that's quite easy to execute. The recipe's success can be largely attributed to the following theorem:
ground beef + cheese + ketchup = delicious
which has been experimentally confirmed over 10^9 times. However, there is some added complexity here which is far above the intellectual level of a fast food hamburger.
Recipe by The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
- 4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (6 oz each)
- 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
- 5 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup ketchup
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl with the rice, and add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and the reserved 1/4 cup tomato juice. Place the peppers, cut side up, in a 9x9 baking dish. Divide the filling mixture evenly among them. Spoon the ketchup mixture over the tops, and sprinkle on the remaining grated cheese. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is browned.
Yield: 4 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Substitutions: We often leave out the parsley when making these, and have also tried using Parmesan instead of Monterey Jack Cheese with good results. Adding some extra garlic to the meat mixture never hurts.